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QUALITY CORNER 

A STUDY OF REMORSE 
By C. L. ANTROBUS 

AUTHOR OF 'WILDERSMOOR' ETC. 




G. P. PUTNAM,S SONS 
NEW YORK & LONDON 
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* NORTH WAS THE GARDEN' 



QUALITY CORNER 



Quality Corner 



CHAPTER I 



^\\T HAT time is it ? ' asked the man at the window. 

V V ' Half-past twelve/ carelessly answered the 
man in the street, walking on with leisurely step. 

It was not until he had gone some little way that 
the strangeness of the question struck him. Why, 
indeed, should, a man indoors ask the time of a man 
without ? And at past midnight ? The stroller stopped, 
reflected a moment, then turned back. 

He was an observant, idly inquisitive man ; an artist, 
and the public was beginning to recognise him as such, 
honouring him after the fashion of Heliogabalus. with 
much feasting and final smother. Mark Parfitt liked 
the feasting, and sat tight, lest any should take his 
place. He meant to move up higher bye-and-bye, and 
he did. To-night, however, when he answered that 
curious question addressed to him from an open win- 
dow, he was but a new-comer at the feast, a young man 
of three and twenty, who had had singular success with 
his first picture. His artist friends said that was owing 
to its being the apotheosis of ugliness. To which 
criticism Mark briefly replied, ' It pays.' 



2 Quality Corner 

This summer he was spending his holiday in a manu- 
facturing town in the Midlands, painting the portrait 
of the mayor. The smoke and grime and squalor did 
not repel him. On the contrary, he was interested. 
There were subjects on all sides, and he made a number 
of sketches that were very useful to him later. 

So the oddness of the incident struck him. Here 
might be another subject. At any rate, it was curious, 
and Parfitt turned back, as has been said. 

The street was not attractive. A row of small houses 
on the right, a canal on the left, and behind and be- 
yond tall buildings and taller chimneys; all dingy, 
squalid — the back-yard of King Gold. 

Yet, under the black dome of night and smoke, the 
two magicians, Light and Shadow, threw an unreal 
picturesqueness on its dull misery. Away against the 
murky heaven sheet lightning played silently, in- 
cessantly, the Handwriting on the Wall. But few ob- 
served it, for the waving scarlet flames of yonder fur- 
nace leapt up every moment, not illuminating the dark- 
ness, but increasing it by bewilderment of olive-black 
shadows, fantastic, threatening, gigantic. The water 
in the canal shone glassy olive in the glare; while be- 
yond, the dazzled eye saw nothing save yet blacker 
depths of gloom. When the flames sank for a minute's 
pause, the lightning showed the surroundings with 
tolerable clearness ; and it was noticeable how, of the 
passers-by, those who walked easily by the lightning 
stumbled when the furnace flames shot up; whereas 
those who stepped confidently in the red glare hesitated 
when only that unheeded Handwriting lit the air. 

It was by the swift white light of that Handwriting 
that Mark Parfitt had seen the face of the man at the 



A Study of Remorse 3 

window. The scarlet flames had sunk, and the hght- 
ning — it is more comfortable to call it lightning — had 
shone suddenly, broadly on the questioner ; on the face 
of a student, a thinker, deHcate, wide-browed, thought- 
ful, dreamy, hesitating. The deep eyes had looked out 
into the hot airless midnight with a kind of startled 
wonder ; and the clear voice — a gentleman's voice, Par- 
fitt noted — vibrated with a thrill as of breathless haste 
passing into apparent repose, like the motionless-seem- 
ing of the spinning world. 

Mark was no fool. He recognised strong emotion 
when he met with it, and appreciated it as material that 
might be made useful to himself, as the sea-tides may 
furnish power to turn a merry-go-round. x\lso, he 
was naturally inquisitive. Here was something hap- 
pening, something out of the common too, judging 
from the face revealed by the lightning. But Parfitt 
had lost the house. Which was it? All the shabby 
little houses looked alike. The window had been open, 
and a lamp burning within. Yes, but the night was 
hot, and people sit up late in manufacturing towns ; 
many windows were open and lights burning down- 
stairs along the street. 

' About half-way, and had dark curtains,' said Mark 
to himself, as the red flames rose and fell, and the 
pallid lightning illumined the dingy dwellings he scru- 
tinised so narrowly as he passed them. The gas lamps, 
only two in number, were useless, the glasses being 
hopelessly dirty and blurred, and the feeble flames 
within showing merely as yellow stars. 

He must depend, as the inhabitants did, upon the 
furnace glare and any light that might shine from 
heaven. Here was a dark-curtained window, and here 



4 Quality Corner 

another and another. His footsteps sounded loudly 
on the pavement — Parfitt was one of those loosely- 
built men who walk heavily even in youth. He paused 
an instant, looking at the third house. Someone, a 
girl, drew the dark curtain a few inches aside and 
glanced out ; then the curtain fell back in its place. In 
that moment she had seen Mark distinctly — a tall, 
narrow-shouldered man, slightly stooping, with sharp 
features, and pale eyes set too closely together. All 
this she saw by a quick outburst of scarlet light, while 
Parfitt, catching only the dim outline of a woman's 
head, turned disappointedly away, to search other win- 
dows equally in vain for that clear-cut, deep-eyed, 
pathetic face that had looked out at him so vividly in 
the lightning's gleam. 

He walked quite to the end of the street, where it 
joined a main thoroughfare. Opposite was an open 
space with a large building, the hospital. To the left 
was a theatre ; to the right a church with an illuminated 
clock. Parfitt glanced up at it; five minutes to one. 
Twenty minutes since that question^ ' What time is 
it ? ' had been addressed to him. Once more he re- 
traced his steps, walking quickly, his eyes rapidly 
noting each house as he passed. Again no result. 
' Not worth while spending the night over,' he re- 
flected, ' yet I had a sort of notion that fellow wanted 
me — wanted help somehow. Perhaps he didn't want 
me — didn't want anybody — rather not! Awful hole, 
anyway ! ' 

And thus thinking, Mark turned the comer into 
another street and walked briskly to his hotel. 



CHAPTER II 

THE little town of Ringway sat huddled on its 
wood-crowned hill side like Puck on a leaf, and 
its ruler was the strong west wind that blew up from 
the Irish sea some twenty miles away. This warm 
wet sweeping wind clothed all the land with unfading 
green, as emerald in winter as in spring, and gave to 
Ringway a curious goblin beauty of sudden lights and 
transient glooms, of quick sparkling showers, of soft 
colouring of deep green moss and ashen-grey lichen 
and blue mist — a dusky Arcadia. 

Strangers came and called it pretty; then, because 
they could not see colour, thev said it had no colour, 
and they departed in search of chromolithographic 
scenery. Ringway cared nothing. For nearly a thou- 
sand years it had crouched there on the old red sand- 
stone, watching the forests change into wide pastures, 
and a dark blur rise in the north-east — the cloud of 
smoke that hangs ever over busy manufacturing 
Woflendale. Ringway looked on serenely at the murky 
patch and thanked Heaven it was not as its neighbour. 
Yet the near presence of that grimy Publican un- 
doubtedly gave a unique character to the little place, 
for there was always the underlying consciousness of 
the rush and clang of that roaring hive of men. 
Amidst the shrill twittering of the darting swallows 
one seemed to listen for the throb of engines, to look 
for the furnace flames in the sunrise. A sense of 

5 



6 Quality Corner 

strife emanated from that north-eastern blur — Tubal- 
cain working in his smithy outside green Eden. 

Ringway bred a sturdy race, not precisely what is 
understood by the word ' rural.' The people were 
quiet and stolid, with a slow fire in their veins that 
flamed up as suddenly as a naphtha well and burnt as 
inextinguishably. Norse blood is apt to turn Berserk. 
They felt uneasy about ghosts and the devil, witches 
and second-sight, and combined with all this a shrewd- 
ness in business and a proficiency in drawing eye-teeth 
that did not wholly please the stranger in Arcadia. 

They were a long-memoried folk too, and had usu- 
ally taken a hand — and that a heavy one — in public 
matters. Therefore, if you conversed with the elders 
in friendly fashion, you would bye-and-bye hear how 
this man's great-grandfather was ' out in the Forty- 
Five,' how that man's grandfather lost a leg at Peterloo, 
and how the forbears of another helped to kill the last 
wolf in the country, 'two mile away over yonder.' 

The market-piace might be called the heart of Ring- 
way, and just where the high road turned out of it 
stood Quality Corner. The name was not in the Post 
Office Directory, but nobody in the town ever called it 
anything else. Strangers sometimes enquired the 
whereabouts of High Street, and were regarded with 
suspicion in consequence. But to ask for Quality 
Corner was a proof that you had belongings in Ring- 
way, and were therefore probably respectable, even 
though you were personally unknown. The local name 
too, as natives pointed out, was accurately descriptive, 
which the other appellation was not; for Quality 
Corner was not a street, but a corner, and quality had 
always lived there — witness the tall old houses, Jour in 



A Study of Remorse 7 

number, two on each side, their front doors opening 
on the street, and their long sunny back gardens 
spreading out down the slope of the hill like a pea- 
cock's tail. If you turned to the right out of the 
Corner, you were in the market-place ; if to the left, 
you were on the wnde white road that climbed the 
hill to Ringway woods, and then turned sharply west, 
winding by hamlet and town to an old walled city 
that had seen the Roman standards glitter against the 
•blue. This last state of the high-road was better than 
its first, for it started from Woffendale, that dark blur 
on Ringway's north-eastern horizon. In summer the 
blur was grey, and the heaven above it grey too. In 
winter the blur was a darker stain, a blacker shadow 
on the sky ; the smoke of the burning of health and 
life and fair peace and rest. 

Quality Corner was neighbourly. It did not hold 
itself aloof. It liked looking out upon the market- 
place and the market-place reciprocated the interest, 
duly discussing the affairs of Quality Corner after it 
had settled its own, and before it turned to those of the 
nation. True, there were other clusters of houses — 
some old, embowered in greenery ; some new, big stone 
villas built by Woffendale merchants; that claimed 
occasional attention from Ringway gossip. But all 
these were scattered outside the town, were not a 
part of it, as was Quality Corner. 

This golden June day there chanced to be more to 
talk about than usual. Also, being market day, there 
were more people to talk, which was another advan- 
tage. That time in the afternoon when business is 
over, and the farmers are lounging about while their 
horses are being brought out, is the time when the 



8 Quality Corner 

thoughts of men turn lightly towards their neighbours' 
doings. Ringway market-place possessed two centres 
of gossip — the principal inn and old Solomon Ingers' 
shop. Solomon was a seedsman of repute, and sup- 
plied the town and the farmers round, as his father and 
grandfather had done before him. He was a little 
shrivelled old man, who looked as though the strong 
sun of life had bleached him, changing the ruddy tints 
to faint greys, ivory yellows, silver whites. His hair 
was silver, his eyes pale blue, his face colourless ; and 
always he wore, summer and winter, a suit of lightest 
grey; with a long white seedsman's apron tied round 
him ; and in his thin yellow fingers he carried an 
ancient snuff-box of wood, polished by constant use, 
and bearing on its lid a roughly carved profile of 
Prince Charlie. Old Sol was proud of this Jacobite 
relic. His people had been, in the phrase of the 
country-side, ' out in the Forty-Five,' and from one 
of these faithful enthusiasts the box had descended to 
him. 

' Fur Church an' King,' he would say, tapping the 
lid, * an' land,' taking a pinch, ' an' respectable folk.' 

Other forms of tobacco he disdained : 

* A pipe dunnot tell what a mon is. He con talk 
treason with it in's teeth, or waving it in's bond like 
a jackass's ear ; but snuff is fur gentlemen an' them as 
holds with gentlemen. Did tha ever see a chap talk 
treason wi' a snuff-box in's bond? No, an' tha never 
will.' 

He was rarely contradicted, for he possessed a tongue, 
and an intimate knowledge of the family history 
of every man in Ringway for three generations back, 
and more. Those who have lived in a country town 



A Study of Remorse 9 

will appreciate the strength of this combination. His 
forbears had lived and died in the same house which he 
now occupied in his turn — a small two-storeyed build- 
ing with an oriel window, behind the panes of which 
bags of seed were piled high. Over this was the win- 
dow of Sol's bedroom, whence he had almost as good 
a view of the market-place as from the steps. In fact, 
he lived in the market-place. From the time he was 
a tiny lad his eyes dwelt on those familiar stones, those 
familiar houses. He had broken his knees on the cob- 
bles and barked his shins on the steps ; on the worn 
pavement he had played marbles in summer and 
thrown snowballs in winter; and had been whipped 
in public by his grandfather for sliding thereon. All 
the familiar faces, gradually growing older, passed 
and re-passed before him daily. Now and then one 
disappeared, and instead, the familiar name was to 
be read in the old churchyard overlooking the valley — 
the dead town near the living one, in friendly wise. 
Few Ringway folk went far away, and they who did 
usually returned. The place had a curious fascina- 
tion for all whose childish feet had trodden its paths. 

In his youth Solomon Ingers had been crossed in 
love, a more serious matter north than south ; conse- 
quently he had not married till late in life, when he 
had chosen an elderly widow with some property. 
As befitted a man of Sol's opinions, his cronies were 
men of substance ; sturdy farmers, well-to-do trades- 
men, and often ' th' better end,' i. e. the gentry, might 
be seen lingering on old Sol's steps. So old-world 
was he, and therefore so companionable. 

This afternoon the June sun shone on his silver 
head as he stood on the top step, snuff-box in hand, 



lO Quality Corner 

the warm light seeming only to accentuate his 
shrivelled paleness, to glance off the surface as it 
were; whereas those same sunbeams rested genially, 
penetratingly on the group of ruddy-faced farmers 
just below him. They were discussing the unusual 
circumstance of Number One Quality Corner, chang- 
ing its tenant. Three of the residents were the 
owners also, but Number One was occasionally to let, 
and had always been occupied by a doctor. The man 
who had now taken the practice and home of his pre- 
decessor was a stranger, therefore the minds of the 
Ringway people were much exercised respecting 
him. 

* It isna th' house fur luck, that theer Number 
One,' remarked a sturdy farmer, gazing meditatively 
across the market-place at Quality Corner. 

' Happen this new chap'U change th' luck, being a 
stranger,' suggested another. For Ringway believed 
in the superior luck of a stranger as against that of a 
native. 

' Dr. Smith wurna a stranger,' said Sol, mentioning 
the last occupant of Number One. 

* No more he wur ! I'd forgot. Well, he got off 
better nor most. He isna dead o' th' house.' 

' He said he'd dee if he stopped in it. But he wur a 
queer lot.' 

* Ay, he wur,' acquiesced a bystander. ' He wouldna 
take any soide in politics. He said he didna know 
which soide had getten th' biggest fools.' 

' Why th' soide he wur on hissen, o' course,' ob- 
served another farmer. 

' Ay, but tha sees, he were on no soide.' 

' Then he mun ha' been soft in th' head ! I dunnot 



A Study of Remorse il 

wonder th' place didna agree wi' him ! ' with the scorn 
of an old Athenian for the man of no party. 

' But there is summat wrong about th' house,' 
persisted farmer Stretton, who had first spoken. 
' Dost tha mind, Sol, how th' doctor afore Smith 
ended wi' hanging hissen; an' th' one afore that died 
o' drink, an' th' one afore him wur killed wi' his horse 
running away ? ' 

' I mind it all well,' responded Sol, ' an' it wur th' 
same i' my grandfather's time, fur I've heard him say 
so.' 

' If yon house wur mine,' said a broad pleasant- 
looking man with brown eyes, farmer Abel Gresty, 
* I'd ha' th' parson in to pray a bit an' see what that 
'ud do.' 

' Or an owd witch-woman,' said farmer Stretton. 
' Wheer theer's owt wrong wi' house or beast, a witch- 
woman '11 fettle 'em a sight better nor a parson. 
When my cows got th' sickness i' th' spring — eight on 
'em slaughtered — an' I wur feart o' th' rest going, I 
sent fur parson to read th' prayers fur th' sick. He 
coom hot-foot, wi' th' prayer-book in's bond, an' by 
th' gate he says to me, *' I am truly sorry to hear you 
have sickness in th' home. It is a sore affliction." 
" Ah," I says, " yo' may well say that, parson." " An' 
where is th' sick?" says he. "Here," says I, leading 
th' way to th' shippon. He seemed surprised-like, 
but my moind wur that full o' th' cows that I never 
thought to explain. An' would yo' believe it? When 
he got into th' shippon an' see th' cows a' standing 
ready, an' me taking oflt' my hat fur th' praying, he 
wur downright mad an' wouldna so much as read a 
verse, let alone a prayer. I says to him, " Parson, 



12 Quality Corner 

tha'd a deal better read prayers o'er them innocent 
dumb beasts than o'er some folks in Ringway, an' 
theer's Scripture fur it too. Didna th' Lord bless th' 
cattle o' Jacob ? " But theer ! yo' know what parsons 
be. He were as stunt as a two-year-owd bull. So I 
says, " Well, parson, we'll say no more about it," an' 
off I went to th' owd witch-woman by th' Moss Brook.' 

Here Stretton paused with the instinct of a born 
story-teller, halting at the most exciting point. 

' An' what happened ? ' asked his deeply in- 
terested audience, while old Solomon silently offered 
the historic snuff-box. Stretton took up about a tea- 
spoonful between his finger and thumb, and resumed 
his tale. ' Oh, th' owd lass did first-rate. Hoo gave 
me some dry herbs to burn i' th' shippon day an' 
neet, to drive off th' sickness. An' they did it too, 
fur th' cows kept all reet. I lost no more. Ay, them 
wur powerful herbs. Yo' could smell 'em fur half a 
mile when th' wind set that way.' 

* That's what Basset up at Quality Corner is 
always sayin,' remarked Gresty, speaking of his land- 
lord. * He holds as the smell o' herbs an' flowers 
'11 do anything. Summat o' th' sort mout be tried wi' 
Number One. It mout turn th' luck a bit.' 

* Is the' new chap married, Sol ? ' asked another 
farmer. 

Sol shook his head, replying laconically ' Bachelor.' 
' 'Tis a queer thing,' commented the last speaker, 

' that the' folks i' Number One are alius bachelors. 

Happen th' house 'ud ha' better luck if theer wur a 

woman in it." 

* Ay,' said Gresty, blowing a sigh that was audible 
across the market-place, ' a woman makes a sight o 



A Study of Remorse 13 

difference i' th' house. I'm that moithered wi' th' 
children I conna tell barley fro' th' oats, an' I've 
more'n half a moind to sleep i' th' shippon fur peace 
an' quiet.' 

' Cows isna bad company,' remarked Stretton, ' but 
what's wrong wi' th' little uns?' 

' Nowt, barring th' want o' a mother,' responded 
the widower, and a murmur of commiseration ran 
through the group. Old Sol took a pinch of snuff 
and said impressively : 

* Tha mun wed again, Gresty. No disrepect to 
her that's gone. She made thee a good wife, an' she 
wouldna be pleased to see th' little uns running wild- 
like.' 

' That's true enow.' Gresty blew another sigh. 
' It isna easy to choose. A young lass 'ud be too 
flighty, an' I couldna stond an owd one.' 

' Theer's Jane Worsley,' suggested a friend; * hoo's 
neither young nor owd, but betwixt an' between, wi' 
th' trifle o' brass her grandfather left her, an' a good 
lass too.' 

' Ay, hoo's a good lass,' responded Gresty with a 
complete absence of enthusiasm. 

Sol answered the tone. 

' Jane isna exactly a beauty, but she's a good sort, 
an' theer's th' brass. Tha might do worse, Gresty/ 

' I mout,' he assented, ' but I amna keen after 
brass, an' I loike summat to look at. My missis that's 
gone wur as pretty as a pansy.' 

At this moment a man passed — a gentleman — 
going towards Quality Corner, walking with a light 
swift step. He looked about thirty, perhaps a little 
more, of middle height and slender build, yet of un- 



14 Quality Corner 

usual breadth of shoulder. His hair and eyes were 
dark, and the quiet curves of the mouth, together 
with the observant kindly glance, spoke of great 
patience A thinker certainly, a dreamer perhaps, 
gentle by birth, gentle also in manner, and doubtless 
in disposition. Yet as the sweetest flowers may grow 
on the slope of a volcano, a man's looks and manner 
do not proclaim absolutely what he will do in un- 
expected circumstances. James Cassilis was one about 
whom there was just that slight uncertainty which 
gives interest. One could not be quite sure what he 
would do. Suppose anybody kicked him? Would 
he go quietly home and send for his lawyer to demand 
an apology ? Or would he instantly turn and retaliate ? 
Roughly speaking, all mankind may be ranged 
into two divisions by this test. Sometimes the latter 
type may be compelled by circumstances to adopt the 
tactics of the former. But the restraining power of 
circumstances is not to be relied upon. If the steam- 
pressure is too great, there is a scattering of the 
boiler; likewise of the bystanders. Perhaps Cassilis 
chiefly impressed strangers as holding life lightly, yet 
taking a deep interest in it; therein differing from 
the majority of his fellows. For they hold life with a 
grip of death, cold, evilly mechanical, whining the 
while that there is naught in all this lovely world worth 
a moment's thought. 

' Theer's th' new chap,' said one of the group on 
Sol's steps, and all eyes followed Cassilis. 

* He may ha' getten some head-filling,' Stretton 
observed, after three minutes' deliberation. ' I loike 
his looks. I've half a moind to try him fur my missis's 
rheumatism. What dost think, Sol ? ' 



A Study of Remorse 15 

' Well, he conna be a bigger fool than Smith wur,' 
replied Sol drily, adding, ' I think he'll do.' 

Which favourable opinion at once gave ' th' new 
chap ' a recognised position in Ringway. 

Cassilis paused a moment at his own door, and 
glanced back at the sunny market-place with its gos- 
siping groups. It pleased him. He was a stranger, 
and the place looked friendly. There was a cool 
moist sweetness in the air, a softened gold in the 
sunshine, that insensibly calmed and soothed. The 
sounds were pleasant, and came gently to the ear as 
though muffled by some unknown attribute of the 
atmosphere. Homely sounds ; the broad-vowelled 
hum of conversation, the ring of horses' hoofs on the 
cobbles, and a sound unfamiHar to Cassilis's ears, the 
clacking of wood on stone — clogs on the pavement — 
all scarcely audible, hushed, subdued, as though much 
farther away than the length of the market-place. 
Now this strange stillness, this curiously distant 
murmur to which all sound was reduced, seemed to the 
stranger as the surface ripple of a placid stream. Later, 
he associated this characteristic with all the country 
round, and thought of it as the undertone of the sea. 

As he went indoors, the old housekeeper, who 
seemed to be transferred with the house like the gas- 
fittings, met him with a note. ' From Mr. Basset, 
next door,' she said. It was an invitation to dinner 
that evening at Number Two, and Cassilis read it 
with pleasant anticipation. He liked going out. He 
was a man whom his fellow-men interested and who 
interested them. 

' Next door,' he repeated, folding up the note ; * is 
Mr. Basset married ? ' 



1 6 Quality Corner 

* No, sir, Mr. Basset never married. Miss Thea is 
his god-daughter. Her father and mother died when 
she was a child, and Mr. Basset adopted her.' 

' Oh. Who lives at Number Three ? ' 

* Miss Emily, sir. Miss Darnton. Her aunt, old 
Mrs. Darnton, died a month ago, so Miss Emily is 
alone now. The house is hers.' 

' And Number Four? ' 

' Mr. Rudell, sir, the lawyer. Mrs. Rudell has her 
brother staying there, a gentleman from London.' 

The old housekeeper retired, and Cassilis fell to 
idly wondering about the denizens of Number Two. 
' Thea ' — a pretty name ; uncommon. Doubtless he 
would float into their kindly peaceful lives, and out 
again, lingering in their memory but as a passing 
stranger. True, he had bought the practice, but in 
these cases it often happens that there is little or no 
practice to buy. He had drifted about the world for 
ten years. It might be that he would drift again, 
and Ringway become only a memory of cool peace. 
He himself would be forgotten; he would not forget. 
He never forgot. Loneliness is a great quickener of 
the memory, and Cassilis was a lonely man. He 
meant to stay in Ringway if he could. Already the 
spell of the North was upon him. 

The long June day drew to evening. The mellow 
sunshine took a deeper gold, and in the lanes the 
sandy track was all in shadow, while the hedges on 
either side shone burnished emerald. The level rays 
just tipped the ears of farmer Stretton's old white 
mare as he drove slowly home, pondering many 
things. First he thought of the cows, ever the chief 
interest to a dairy farmer; then he reflected on the 



A Study of Remorse 17 

business he had done and the gossip he had heard, 
and settled in his own mind how much of both he 
should tell his wife. This was a complicated matter 
to arrange, because Mrs. Stretton had also been to 
market that morning, returning home early with a 
friend; so her husband could not be sure how much 
of the news had been imparted to her during those 
early morning hours. In the midst of this problem 
his eyes fell on a woman sitting on the hedge bank; 
a comely woman of perhaps thirty — fair, blue-eyed, 
fresh-complexioned, with smoothly banded brown 
hair, and a general look of calm alertness. Farmer 
Stretton noted with approval the simple cotton gown, 
the black shawl and bonnet ; and, pulling up the mare, 
he addressed the stranger : ' Art tha going far. Missis ? ' 

' I wur thinking o' going to Ringway,' she replied, 
and the tones of her voice were sweet and womanly. 
* Happen I could find work there. Fve walked o'er 
fro' WofTendale, where I've left my box.' 

' Ay, I see,' responded Stretton thoughtfully. He 
was wondering why this pleasant-looking woman had 
left her friends — why she was apparently so alone in 
the world. Perceiving that she wore a wedding ring, 
he concluded she was a widow. ' Happen hoo an' her 
folks quarrelled o'er th' chap,' he reflected. 

' I'm not afraid o' work,' the stranger went on. ' I 
wur brought up on a farm, out Marbury way.' 

As she spoke, a brilliant idea flashed into Stretton's 
mind. 

* Theer's a friend o' mine,' he said, ' a farmer — Abel 
Gresty — an' a regular good sort too, as mout be glad 
o' thee. His wife's dead, an' there's six little uns, 
an' nobbut an' owd lass o' sixtv-five to look to 'em. 



1 8 Quality Corner 

He wur telling me to-day he wur fair moithered to 
death. If tha likes to try th' place, I'll drive thee 
o'er. 'Tis but a mile away,' pointing with his whip 
over the hedge. ' My name's Stretton — William Stret- 
ton, o' th' Yew Tree farm.' 

' Thank yo',' she said simply, rising from the mossy 
bank on which she sat. ' I'd like th' place well. I'd 
be pleased to see to th' children.' 

* Put thy foot on th' wheel, then. So — ,' holding 
out his hand to assist her. She stepped deftly up 
beside Stretton, and the old white mare plodded on, 
shaking her ears in surprised remonstrance when un- 
expectedly turned out of the lane into a road that 
was certainly not the way home. It was called a road 
by courtesy, but was merely a peaty track leading 
down into the wide valley that lay below Ringway. 

* 'Tis sweet to see th' country,' said the woman, 
looking round with the air of a returning exile. 

' Ay, it's noan like Woffendale, thank th' Lord ! ' 
responded Stretton. ' It fair beats me how folk con 
live in o' that muck an' grime. But I reckon tha 
couldna help thysen, Missis,' he added politely glanc- 
ing towards the dark blur on the north-eastern horizon. 

' I didna live in Woffendale,' she repHed, ' I only 
got there this morning. I lived in Bramsall, nigh 
Birmingham. But afore I wur wed, my home wur 
nigh Marbury.' 

' 'Tis pretty country about theer,' said Stretton. 

' All my folks are dead,' resumed the stranger after 
a moment's pause, 'or I'd ha' gone back home. So I 
took a thought to bide hereabouts.' 

Stretton nodded. He felt much compassion for 
anyone compelled to the hardship of residence any- 



A Study of Remorse 19 

where out of sight of green fields; and also, as his 
companion talked, a yet more brilliant idea dazzled 
him. Why should not his friend Gresty marry this 
good-looking widow? She was evidently quiet and 
respectable; neither too young nor too old; a woman 
alone in the world and poor, therefore likely to be 
glad of so good a home as Gresty could offer; fond 
of children and industrious. Why, the more Stretton 
considered the matter the more desirable did the mar- 
riage appear. He looked at the stranger again. De- 
cidedly she was the wife for Gresty. 

' I dunno as I wouldna wed her mysen if I wur want- 
ing a missis,' thought Stretton as he whipped up the 
mare past a little wood in whose green depths a belated 
cuckoo was calling. 

' Theer's th' farm,' he said aloud, pointing to a 
cluster of buildings just beyond the wood. Truly, 
the homestead looked a peaceful haven, and the peace 
was reflected in the woman's eyes as she gazed upon it. 

' 'Tis a pretty place fur a home,' she said. 

' Ay, it is, an' Gresty looks after things well too,' 
replied Stretton. ' Theer he is ! If tha'll hold th' 
reins a minute, I'll get down an' speak to him.' 

There was about the farm the sleepy stir of even- 
ing. The cows were being driven up from the mead- 
ows in that slow sauntering fashion which is so 
restful to watch. There were yellow fluffy chickens 
running about, and soft brown ducklings ; and the 
six children all mixed up with the cows and chicks, 
ducklings and dogs. The woman's eyes dwelt con- 
tentedly on the scene. She must have been a hope- 
ful creature, ready to let the dead past drop and be 
quietly happy in the present, for her life had been 



20 Quality Corner 

hard and wretched for many years ; yet the face re- 
tained its youthful freshness and the serenity that 
seemed her chief characteristic. There was no shadow 
in the blue eyes that so calmly met Gresty's brown 
ones as he came forward after a brief conversation 
with his friend. 

' I'll be rarely pleased to ha' thee here, Missis,' he 
said. ' I reckon we shallna quarrel about th' payment. 
We'll talk it o'er bye-and-bye. Coom in an' set thee 
down comfortable ; owd Martha '11 get thee a cup o' 
tea. Th' owd lass'll be glad enow to ha' help wi' th' 
little uns, an' so shall I.' 

Thus June Heald became an inmate of the Moss 
Farm. 

Farmer Stretton drove home feeling the glow of 
satisfaction that so rarely follows doing good to one's 
neighbours. The little adventure exhilarated him, and 
he related it at length to his wife during their sub- 
stantial tea. 

' So I've done two folks a good turn to-day,' he 
observed when the meal was over and the story came 
to an end. 

' I'll see th' woman afore I say owt about it,' re- 
plied his better half sententiously. 

' Tha dunnot ask me whether hoo wur good-look- 
ing or no,' he presently remarked between two whiflfs 
of his pipe. 

' I amna a fool,' retorted Mrs. Stretton with asperity. 
* Tha wouldna ha' taken a' that trouble fur a woman as 
wurna good-looking. I know thee men ! ' 

' Nay — nay,' with a deprecatory wave of the pipe. 

' I know thee men ! ' repeated Mrs. Stretton firmly. 

And no more was said about June Heald that night. 



< 



CHAPTER III 

ALL the four houses of QuaHty Corner were alike 
in size and shape, with long rooms running from 
front to back, having windows at each end, one look- 
ing into the street, the other on the garden. Entering 
Number Two that evening. Cassilis was sensible of 
the pervading brightness and fragrance. Colour and 
the scent of pinks seemed everywhere ; and; what 
comfort and repose ! His own abode was dingy in 
the extreme, a contrast indeed to this drawing-room 
of Basset's, with its gold-coloured walls above the 
dark panelling, its soft salmon-pink draperies and 
dark carpet. There were books and papers in plenty, 
and comfortable chairs with fluffy cushions for tired 
shoulders, one or two good pictures, several book- 
cases ; but not an ornament anywhere save a few 
valuable bronzes and a wide majolica bowl filled with 
white pinks. Whether owing to the perfume of the 
pinks, or the charm of the house, or the grace and 
beauty of the girl who welcomed him, Cassilis felt 
himself in an atmosphere of exhilarating friendliness. 

When he entered the room Thea Basset was stand- 
ing by the farther window, looking into the garden. 
Hearing his step, she turned and came forward with 
a swift movement, as a swallow turns on the silent rush 
of his wings. 

' I must introduce myself, Dr. Cassilis, but no 
doubt you have heard of me already. Mr. Basset is 

21 



12 Quality Corner 

my godfather. People call me his adopted daughter. 
I prefer to say he is my adopted father. He will be 
overcome with confusion when he finds you have ar- 
rived before he is here to welcome you.' 

' Perhaps,' said Cassilis, * my watch has sent me 
here too early.' 

* Oh, no ; it is Mr. Basset who is late. He is always 
either too soon or the reverse. He says he believes 
the proverb " Time was made for slaves," and he 
therefore takes every opportunity of asserting his 
freedom.' 

She spoke with singular clearness and softness, and 
with a musical ripple in her voice as of running water. 
Where had Cassilis heard a voice that remotely, re- 
sembled hers? And where had he seen that little 
gesture of the flung-out hand with which she finished ? 
It seemed oddly familiar. Yet he could not recall any- 
one like this girl. Never elsewhere had he seen those 
velvet-brown eyes with their long lashes so much darker 
than the thick coils of brown hair; that delicate face 
with its healthy pallor, red beneath the ivory — a pale- 
ness that he thought lovelier than any rosiness. Her 
gown, of some gauzy material — was the colour green 
or blue ? — fell about her in floating folds, and was 
fastened at the throat by a narrow bar of opals. To 
Cassilis's fancy, these milk-white gems, each with a 
spark of fire in its heart, seemed peculiarly appropriate 
to the wearer. No other jewels would suit her; no 
others would give the impression that she herself gave, 
of pallor and vivid life. Again Cassilis told himself 
that he was positive he had seen no one even remotely 
resembling her; and at this moment his host came in. 

Septimus Basset was a short, stout, fresh-com- 



J 



A Study of Remorse 23 

plexioned man, with snow-white hair and kindly blue 
eyes. 

' I must apologise for my late appearance, Dr. 
Cassilis,' and he shook his guest's hand with extreme 
cordiality. ' Has my god-daughter made an excuse 
for me ? I cannot think of one for myself.' 

' I have been told you object to the slavery of 
punctuality,' said Cassilis. 

Basset nodded. ' That is my view. It reduces a 
man to a piece of machinery. There are times, how- 
ever, when it is a duty, and this is one. I was de- 
tained, or rather I detained myself, giving advice. 
There is an extraordinary fascination about that same 
giving of advice. One could go on for ever. It is 
only when one is the advised that one takes to one's 
heels.' 

' Do people ever follow your advice, Dr. Cassilis ? ' 
enquired Thea. 

* Sometimes. But it is a perpetual surprise to me 
when they do.' 

' You have the advantage that they cannot run 
away,' said Basset as dinner was announced. 

The dining-room was coloured like a pale violet. 
Some fine etchings and an old Venetian mirror deco- 
rated the walls, which were two shades of lilac above 
the panelling, the draperies being a warm amethyst. A 
silver bowl filled with white pinks stood in the centre 
of the table, and Cassilis remarked on their old-world 
beauty. 

' I see your garden from my windows, and it looks 
like a bees' paradise,' he said. ' Now in mine I 
behold only huge prickly gooseberry bushes labelled 
" Lancashire Lad " and " Thumper." ' 



24 Quality Corner 

' Those gooseberries were the pride of your pred- 
ecessor's heart.' This from Thea. 

* But they are really very monotonous from the 
landscape point of view. And besides, there is such 
an air of aggressive virtue about a gooseberry bush. 
It is so oppressively useful. There is absolutely noth- 
ing to be said against it. It is the Aristides of plants ; 
therefore I wish to ostracise it. You perceive the in- 
stinctive ingratitude of fallen man ! ' 

' Why not banish the gooseberries to the farther 
end of the garden ? ' 

' Oh, I should know they were there.' 

'Do you find the scent of our pinks exhilarating?' 
asked Basset. 

Cassilis paused a moment : ' I think so. There is 
a country cheeriness and peace about the perfume ; a 
sort of Boyhood's Home, you know.' 

' Exactly. Now do you not think that perfumes 
are unwisely neglected in modern medicine? I have 
a theory on the subject. I consider them a great heal- 
ing and educational force. To begin with, all healing 
resides in herbs ; is not that so ? ' 

' Yes, I agree with you there. Undoubtedly, if 
we took the trouble, we should find in the vegetable 
kingdom a cure for wellnigh every disease; only, we 
do not take the trouble.' 

Thea turned her dark eyes upon him : ' Why do 
you not take the trouble ? ' 

* Because there are no substantial rewards for 
botanical research, and where the pay is, there will the 
heart be also.' 

' Still, the general neglect is remarkable,' observed 
Basset. 



A Study of Remorse 25 

' It is. But at present we prefer the contents of 
the Macbeth cauldron, and to doubt the efficacy of 
the brew is to be a voice crying in the wilderness.' 

' That voice was heard,' said Thea. 

' Because it cried in a natural wilderness. Now- 
adays the wilderness is that hopelessly deaf waste, a 
crowd.'' 

' You think all the units of the crowd are deaf ? ' 

' Or wish to be. Listening is fatiguing. So is 
thinking. Perhaps, however, I ought rather to say 
that I am a man who has never done anything and who 
never will do anything." 

Thea smiled, a sudden illumination that sparkled 
in her eyes before it reached her lips. Cassilis saw 
that she did not in the least believe him, and he was 
pleased that she did not. A glow as of renewed 
youth warmed his veins. Years ago people had 
believed in him, had predicted great things of him; 
but he passed into the vast army of the unknown 
fighters, the men who are unnoticed in the turmoil. 
He had forgotten, or thought he had forgotten, the 
gladness of the May-time, till beneath the magic of 
Thea Basset's smiling incredulity something of that 
gladness sprang up again, as though once more he had 
the world before him. 

Basset surveyed his guest with obvious satisfaction. 
* I can see the pinks have a beneficial effect on you,' 
he remarked : ' They are excellent for the table, as 
they stimulate conversation. Some perfumes rather 
tend to stifle it. I am convinced that almost every 
ailment of mind and body could be successfully treated 
by means of suitable odours. Certainly many could be 
prevented by the use of them ! ' 



26 Quality Corner 

' You would smoke them out after the fashion of 
Tobit?' 

* Partly. In fact, that, like other ancient practices, 
is a survival of a truth which has become perverted in 
the course of centuries. We do not realise how much 
our emotions depend on our sense of smell. We 
know already we can produce langour, intoxication, 
frenzy, death, by different scents ; why not other 
states? The slothful could be roused by pungent 
odours, the irascible soothed by gentle ones, such as 
sweet peas.' 

* But suppose the irascible man swore at the peas ? ' 
' Ah,' rejoined Basset with a sigh, ' that brings me 

to the question of education. Our present methods 
are lamentable. I would stimulate the love of study 
by thyme, scent of thyme, always a favourite among 
the Greeks, you will remember. Negligence would 
be checked by other herbs. Of course I am aware 
the scheme sounds a little vague, but you understand 
the general principle ? ' 

' Perfectly.' Cassilis felt considerably entertained 
by this discovery of his host's hobby. Most hobbies 
are entertaining, so long as they are not political; 
and this particular one was quite a new kind, a gentle 
palfrey that made one think ' Time had run back and 
fetched the Age of Gold ' into this present century of 
shot and steel. 

' The idea of the scent education is delightful,' 
said Thea. ' The solitary drawback, as far as I can 
see, is that it would only be effectual with sensitive 
natures. Tommy So-and-so has lost his way among 
the Greek verbs ; fetch the asafoetida and hold it under 
his nose. Now a refined Tommy So-and-so might 



A Study of Remorse 27 

have sufficient objection to the punishment to induce 
him to learn his Greek better. But the average 
Tommy So-and-so would not mind the asafoetida in the 
least. I have even a horrid suspicion that he would 
rather enjoy it.' 

' With the probable increase of refinement, I should 
hope for this drawback to disappear,' said her god- 
father. 

' Yes,' doubtfully. ' But for many years I fear 
another vegetable remedy will continue to be the most 
effectual.' 

' And what is that ? ' 

* The cane. Daddy.' 

Cassilis laughed outright, and so did Basset. 

' You see, Dr. Cassilis,' he said, ' I have not suc- 
ceeded in impressing my god-daughter with the cor- 
rectness of my theory.' 

' Oh yes, you have,' she cried, ' the theory is all 
right. The worst of it is that I am always agreeing 
with all sorts of absolutely perfect theories, but when 
I begin to imagine them being put in practice diffi- 
culties arise. It is evident I am not a born reformer, 
or I should never perceive any difficulties.' 

' There certainly seems a perverse spirit of nega- 
tion everywhere,' said Cassilis. ' The more gorgeous 
our schemes, the more chaotic their results : And we 
recur in despair to the primitive methods, a kick and 
a push and an occasional sugar-plum now and then — 
Dame Nature's methods.' 

' Dame Nature is really a very step-motherly per- 
son at times,' murmured his host. 

' She is. But we don't seem to do any better.' 

* I am afraid vou are feelina: the burden of uni- 



28 Quality Corner 

versal human nature. That modern disease needs 
prompt treatment — rosemary or thyme or lemon- 
verbena. The scent of blossoming lime is also ex- 
cellent for the complaint, which is very prevalent 
nowadays. Believe me, my dear sir, it is no use 
troubling oneself with human nature beyond one's 
own individuaUty. That is quite enough human 
nature for any one man or woman to grapple with. 
Beyond it, one merely repeats the forlorn attempts of 
Sisyphus ; the stone rolls back every time.' 

' Are you not contradicting your own words ? ' 
Cassilis was feeling more and more amused. 

' Not at all — not at all. Help people, by all means, 
but don't think about them too much If you do, 
your own natural joy of life will be overclouded, to the 
detriment of the world. This age is suffering from 
the want of natural joyousness. The century's sense 
of smell is out of order,' Basset continued earnestly; 
' that is what is the matter with it. Too much gas and 
tobacco, too little sunshine and wild thyme.' 

' We have undoubtedly travelled beyond Falstaff's 
definition of riotous living,' said Cassilis. ' It is no 
longer unusual to hear the chimes at midnight. It 
would be more unusual to hear them at any other 
time.' 

Basset took up a white pink with a thoughtful air. 

* Of course, anyone who makes an eflfort to heal 
humanity is a terrible nuisance. I feel that myself. 
Therefore I cultivate as far as possible a certain light- 
heartedness, and recommend it to others. You know 
the Irish saying, " Take life aisy, and if ye cannot 
take it aisy, take it as aisy as ye can." I am con- 
vinced that wisely chosen perfumes contribute mate- 



A Study of Remorse 29 

rially to the light-heartedness we now so rarely see — 
light-heartedness as distinguished from boisterous 
enjoyment or feverish craving for amusement.' 

' You mean " the laughter that rose up like a foun- 
tain." ' 

' Exactly ; bubblingf water in the sunshine. We 
do our best here in the Comer. Have you seen your 
remaining neighbours, Miss Darnton and the Ru- 
dells?' 

* No as yet they are only names to me. I have 
made one acquaintance — Mr. Galloway. He sent for 
me this afternoon.' 

' Ah, Galloway's sciatica. Gloomy house, is it not ? 
We are old friends and wrangle perpetually. I don't 
like his dinners and he does not care for mine. When 
you dine with him, you will understand my objec- 
tions. As for the Corner, we have promised to take 
you in next door after dinner — Number Three — 
Miss Darnton's. She is a cousin of the Occlestons. 
You will probably see Tony Occleston there. George, 
the elder brother, is married and lives at Outwood, 
a pretty place — his own — two miles off, beyond 
Ringway woods. His wife is a charming woman. 
She has some money — lucky for George Occleston in 
these days. There are two boys, nice little fellows. 
Sure to be patients of yours.' 

* I hardly know how to answer that,' responded 
Cassilis. ' If I say " I hope so," the remark sounds 
unfeeling. If I say, " I hope not," I imply a doubt of 
my own powers. Perhaps it would be safest to ob- 
serve that T shall be delighted to make the Occlestons' 
acquaintance under any circumstances.' 

' They all belong in a way to Quality Corner,' said 



30 Quality Corner 

Thea, ' and Emily Darnton's house is the rallying 
point for the whole Corner. That is partly because she 
now lives alone, her aunt having died recently. So 
we feel it our duty to preserve her from dulness.' 

' The Rudells are sure to be there,' Basset went 
on. ' Mrs. Rudell is a comparative stranger in the 
Corner. She married Rudell about a year ago, to 
everybody's surprise. He had been a widower so long 
that no one ever supposed he would take a second 
wife. I think she finds the place dull. By the way, 
her brother is staying with them, Mark Parfitt, the 
artist. He is doing a big fresco in the Woffendale 
Town Hall. Do you know him ? ' 

' Only by repute.' 

* I don't like him,' continued Basset. ' He seems 
to me almost as unpleasant as his pictures. So ter- 
ribly indoor. Quite without air — pure air. His oil, 
the midnight oil. His water-colour, boiled water; 
nothing in it. But he makes money. Therefore he 
is a great artist. That is the touchstone nowadays. 
Not, are you gold? but, have you gold? Or at least, 
have you enough to make people think that you have 
more?' 

Cassilis was willing to go anywhere, ready to be 
interested in anybody. This was his habitual mental 
attitude. He was incapable of being bored — a char- 
acteristic most often found among those who are 
isolated wanderers through existence, waifs and 
strays along life's highway. The beggar is more 
ready to converse than the millionaire; and Cassilis, 
drifting hither and thither as chance directed, was 
friendly and genial as any poverty-stricken wayfarer. 
His fellow-creatures were always more or less enter- 



A Study of Remorse 31 

taining; just now they were more entertaining than 
usual. Life seemed warmer since he had entered 
that old house with its scent and sheen of colour, 
and met Thea Basset's dark eyes, and felt that subtle 
charm of manner that was so strangely familiar. 
His host, too, interested him — so curious a mingling 
of kindly eccentricity and shrewd common sense. 
Also, Basset's dinners were very good. Careless and 
semi-ascetic though Cassilis might be as regarded his 
own daily food, he was not ignorant of the difference 
between a good dinner and a bad one. A man must 
be wretched indeed, or hopelessly a churl, if he does 
not find the world pleasanter after a dinner such as 
Basset was wont to set before a guest. Everything 
was pleasant to James Cassilis just then. Outside in 
the quiet street the sunset streamed from the west in 
level orange radiance. Through the other window 
came cool sweet airs from the blossoming garden, 
which lay in partial shadow — luminous shadow hardly 
to be called shade. This soft grey shadow deepened, 
and suddenly into the stillness fell the quick patter- 
ing of summer rain, a sparkling shower laced by the 
sunbeams. It ceased well-nigh as suddenly as it 
came; a thrush began to sing, and the western glory 
turned redder. 

' " 'Tis an elfin storm from faeryland," ' quoted 
Thea, with laughing eyes and the swift gesture of the 
open hand that Cassilis seemed to know so well. 

' It must be,' he responded gravely. ' Nothing less 
can account for such a freak of the elements.' 

' Troll-weather — that is what it is.' Thea continued. 
' Long ago a spell was laid on Ringway, and has 
never been taken off, so the weather is always Troll- 



32 Quality Corner 

weather. Here we have no definitely marked morning, 
noon and night; but green, shining, showery days — 
fairy green; soft rain and sunshine falling through 
green leaves on green moss and grey lichen, with 
west winds that blow off the sea, and grey clouds like 
the lichen, and blue mists, and over all a rainbow 
tangle of sun and shower. That is Troll-weather. 
Do you think you will like living in a rainbow, Dr. 
Cassilis ? ' 

' I shall like it very much,' he replied. 

* Yes,' said Basset carelessly, ' Ringway wears " the 
fairies' fatal green." ' 



CHAPTER IV 

NUMBER THREE, Quality Corner, was briskly 
modern in the general effect of its rooms. The 
house had not the peculiar atmosphere of scholarly 
peace that distinguished Number Two, but its climate 
was friendly and vivacious. Its mistress and owner 
was likewise friendly and vivacious — a handsome girl 
of five-and-twenty, with eyes and hair of a curious light 
chestnut, and a pleasantly decisive manner. ' I am so 
glad to see you, Dr. Cassilis,' she said. ' A stranger in 
the land — I mean, in the Corner — is always such an 
excitement for all of us ; and Dr. Smith gave us no 
chance of gratifying our natural curiosity. He was 
quite a hermit, and a hermit in the Comer is an 
anomaly with which we are not able to cope. Appar- 
ently his neighbours did not afford him any amuse- 
ment, and what was worse, he did not amuse us.' 

* I take the deepest interest in the Corner/ said 
Cassilis, and he spoke the truth. 

' How nice of you. Emily, please explain to Dr. 
Cassilis that I am Number Four.' 

The speaker was Mrs. Rudell. As Susette Parfitt 
she had been a schoolfellow of Emily Darnton, had 
visited her, and to everyone's astonishment, had mar- 
ried the elderly lawyer. Ringway bored her terribly, 
so did her husband ; but she had gained what she 
wanted, a home. Now her one desire was to get back 
to town, and she would gladly have persuaded Rudell 

35 



34 Quality Corner 

to live in London. On this point, however, he was in- 
exorable. No power on earth would induce him to 
leave Ringway. So she turned her attention to finding 
a wife for her brother Mark. If he had a house in 
town, she could run up whenever she felt inclined. 
For which reason he had better marry someone she 
knew, and whom she could manage. Susette Rudell 
felt no doubt as to her own ability to manage Thea 
Basset when once Thea was married to a man of 
Mark's temper ; and Basset was rich — there would be 
money. Of course Mark needed money. The com- 
mission that brought him down to Ringway was really 
most convenient, enabling him to look round and make 
up his mind without his visit being in any way con- 
spicuous. Meanwhile, she herself was pleased to dis- 
play to Ringway the tall narrow-chested man who now 
stood beside her chair, a half-open book in his hand — 
easy, careless, superciliously observant. 

' Dr. Cassilis, Mrs. Rudell is your last neighbour,' 
said Emily. ' Perhaps you already know Mr. Parfitt? ' 

* By celebrity, certainly ! ' The two men bowed, their 
glances crossing with a quick flash as of steel, the 
beginning of their duel, of which, when it ended, none 
could say who was the victor. In that moment Cassilis 
saw — not Emily Darnton's drawing-room, but a dingy 
street lit by lightning and furnace flame, and a stranger 
answering a question addressed to him from a window. 
For ten years — such long years — Cassilis had not seen 
that face, and even then had only seen it once. Yet 
instantly he recognised Mark Parfitt as the man who 
had replied to his aimless question that night. The 
ten years had not altered Parfitt greatly. He was not 
so weedy-looking, had filled out a little, and his hair, 



A Study of Remorse 35 

always scanty, had worn off his forehead in a way that 
his dearest friends called baldness. But there were 
the same sloping shoulders, the same awkward carriage 
of the head, the same cold sharp eyes set too closely- 
together. 

He looked prosperous, and he w-as. His life was 
altogether smooth and successful — that is to say, he 
was one of the devil's own husks of humanity. There 
was no kernel in him whatever, and chaff flies high. 
It can ride on the lightest breeze when the good wheat 
falls earthward and is trodden under foot of men. 
Parfitt was neither good grain nor bad ; he was simply 
the husk, and he flew high and looked solid, and was 
admired accordingly. For the rest, he was exactly 
ten years the worse. A decade ago he might possibly 
have done a stray kindness, provided the doing thereof 
gave him no trouble and some slight amusement. Now, 
the first flush of youth being gone, Mark had become 
the average unpleasant human being who bears you no 
particular malice for any particular thing, but a sort of 
general malice for being what you are, and will quietly 
trip you up if opportunity offers — and it usually does. 

A sudden look of puzzled surprise came into Parfitt's 
eyes as he met Cassilis's glance, and the latter saw that 
the recognition was not so perfect as his own. The 
artist did not remember when or where they had en- 
countered each other. 

' He will soon recollect that,' thought Cassilis, as 
his new hostess introduced him to Mr. Rudell, a small 
man with neat features and a bald head. 

* Do you do anything in this line, Dr. Cassilis ? ' he 
asked, holding out an enamelled snuff-box. 'No? 
Ah, I believe old Sol Ingers and myself will continue 



^6 Quality Corner 

to be the only snuff-takers in Ringway. Queer old 
fellow, Sol. Estimable in many ways. You'll see 
him by-and-by.' 

' I have already made his acquaintance, and have 
been offered a pinch out of the historic snuff-box.' 

* You must have made a good impression. Did you 
take it?' 

' Yes.' 

* Then your practice is assured. Old Sol will rake 
up every sick man for miles round and send him to 
you. He never forgave Smith for refusing snuff and 
having no political opinions. He used to go about tell- 
ing the women that Smith's physic produced wrinkles. 
No wonder Smith couldn't get on ! ' 

Cassilis laughed. ' No doubt they would prefer Mr. 
Basset's remedies.' 

' Ah, you mean Basset's medical and educational 
theories. Yes, when a man has no occupation he 
chooses a hobby, generally an unmanageable one, and 
its antics amuse him — and his friends.' 

' I am disposed to agree with him to a certain extent,' 
said CassiHs. 

' So are we all, but we stop half way. We shirk the 
ditches. Basset takes them flying.' 

' Dr. Cassilis,' said Thea, waving her hand towards 
a swarthy bright-eyed young fellow sitting beside her, 
' this is Anthony Occleston. Emily has forgotten 
him.' 

* I don't live in the Corner,' said Occleston, looking 
at Cassilis with friendly eyes, ' but I belong to it in a 
way. We were all brought up together, you see, in 
Ringway or thereabouts, so we are pretty much like 
one family-' 



A Study of Remorse 37 

' Did I hear Rudell scoffing at my theories ? ' en- 
quired Basset. He had been talking to Parfitt. 

' I, too, am an unbeHever/ said Mrs. Rudell. ' You 
once advised me to sniff mixed pickles, Mr. Basset.' 

' Impossible, Mrs. Rudell ! ' 

* Well, perhaps it was nasturtiums. I ought to sniff 
nasturtiums. But they are pickles, you know.' 

' I may have observed that the scent of nasturtiums 
is of the nature of a tonic, and has the advantage of 
being harmless.' 

' A bunch of them would have been useful after that 
lecture we attended this afternoon,' remarked Occles- 
ton. 

' Why did we go to it ? ' Emily suddenly demanded. 

' For the usual human reason — because we had noth- 
ing better to do,' said Parfitt. 

' What was it ? ' asked Thea. ' And where ? In 
Woffendale?' 

Emily answered : 

' Yes, in Woffendale. I was there this afternoon, 
as you know, and I met Tony. Then, at the station, 
we two met Mrs. Rudell and Mr. Parfitt, and all four 
of us missed the Ringway train. So we strolled into 
the nearest place of amusement we could find. It 
was a lecture hall, and a man was lecturing on the 
Destiny of the Human Race. He was an extraor- 
dinary creature, positively grotesque. Wasn't he, 
Tony?' 

' He said he was a self-made man,' Occleston re- 
plied, with his wholesome boyish laugh, ' and upon my 
soul, I beheve it. He looked like it, poor chap ! ' 

' But what was to be the destiny of the human 
race ? ' 



38 Quality Corner 

* Tony ! ' cried Emily, ' come and help me with the 
tea.' 

As Anthony rose obediently, Parfitt lounged across 
the room, and dropped into the seat beside Thea that 
Occleston had just vacated. 

' The destiny appeared to be a vague one,' said Mark, 
answering her question. ' I am, however, under the 
impression that we were all to be presidents.' 

' Not presidents,' Emily corrected, ' Members of Par- 
liament.' 

' With all our sins,' remarked CassiHs, ' I do not 
think we have deserved such a fate as that.' 

' It seems to me,' Thea observed meditatively, ' that 
lecturers need a course of instruction themselves.' 

' Thea,' said Emily solemnly, ' when our teachers of 
the various professions attain their desires, your fate 
is certain. People who criticise their rulers will be 
electrocuted.' 

' Oh, I dare say the less zealous among them would 
give me the choice between banishment and adopting 
the new religion.' 

' What is the new religion ? ' enquired Cassilis. 

* None at all,' with a sudden flash of laughter in her 
eyes ; ' and as my mind is not constructed for change, I 
should seek refuge in a desert, if such a thing remains.' 

* Are you not a little narrow ? ' Parfitt's manner was 
at once confidential and superior, and Thea felt an- 
noyed. 

' I suppose so,' she replied indifferently, ' like a 
Damascus sword.' 

Cassilis met her glance and laughed, ' Of all the 
extraordinary comparisons ! ' * 

' I like a good sword.' 



A Study of Remorse 39 

' So do I, It is one of the three perfect things.' 
Then, in response to her look of enquiry, he added: 
* You know man has made three things so perfect that 
they cannot be improved — the sword, the viohn, and — 
I forget the third.' 

' Try to remember,' she urged. ' That interests me.' 

' I will try hard, but I am afraid the third perfection 
has vanished from my memory.' 

' Perhaps I can think of it myself. Is it lace ? ' 

' I cannot tell. It may be. I am not sure. Is it 
possible to surpass old lace ? ' 

Parfitt sat and listened and looked on with his usual 
impassive face. Inwardly he was angry, and his anger 
was cold, which is an unpleasant form of the complaint. 
He was no fool. He knew when he encountered his 
betters, but he was not pleased thereby. He perceived, 
with that same cold anger, the charm of this stranger ; 
the minghng of perfect comprehension and sympa- 
thetic gentleness which was the reason Cassilis made 
warm friends, and enemies equally to be relied upon. 
For every good gift, like the magnet, has its repellent 
as well as its attracting pole, and in each case, like 
draws like. Ten years ago Parfitt had been drawn 
toward the face of the student — the dreamer. Now, 
being ten years the harder, and the student having 
changed into this calm-eyed observant man, Mark 
Parfitt felt no attraction, but the reverse, while he won- 
dered where he had seen that face before. 

' A country doctor, and poor,' he said to himself. 
' Shabby dress-clothes. And he doesn't care, either. 
Puts them on well, though. I seem to know him. 
It's not the sort of face one forgets.' Thus he mused 
as he noticed with increasing annoyance the easy 



40 Quality Corner 

friendliness that seemed to have sprung up between 
Thea Basset and the new tenant of Number One. 
Parfitt had contemplated the possibihty of finding a 
wealthy wife during this visit of his to the North. He 
did not particularly wish to marry, but even a suc- 
cessful artist finds the making of money a wearisome 
task. For instance, this fresco in Woffendale Town 
Hall was profitable certainly, but it kept him down 
here in the country, which he detested. So bored 
was he that he seriously thought of freeing himself 
for ever from the necessity of accepting such com- 
missions by marrying some well-dowered WofTendale 
girl. But the two or three whose fortunes were large 
were not themselves attractive. Parfitt was acutely 
sensitive to ridicule. His wife must not bounce, must 
not be apple-cheeked, neither must she be hopelessly 
insignificant. Thea Basset, though she might have 
less money, was undeniably beautiful. Moreover, she 
had been brought up by a man of culture. Basset 
might be eccentric, but he was a scholar and a gen- 
tleman ; and his adopted daughter could be transplanted 
to London without Parfitt feeling apprehensive as to 
what she might possibly say or do. He reflected that 
he really might do worse than marry Thea Basset. 
His sister had told him that Basset was richer than 
he seemed, for he did not spend half his income and had 
been steadily saving for years. Altogether, the notion 
appeared an excellent one. 

However, the artist was in no hurry. He was 
not quite sure that the money would compensate for 
the misfortune of being married. Perhaps he might 
have given up the idea if Thea had responded at all 



A Study of Remorse 41 

to his cool advances. But she remained absolutely 
indifferent, with a chill indifference that left no doubt 
on his mind. Therefore he looked at her again and 
again, almost resolving to marry her because of that 
same indifference. In town he would probably have 
forgotten her in a week. Here, in the green stillness 
of Ringway, his thoughts dwelt angrily on her beauty 
and her elusiveness. For there was about her a singu- 
lar elusive quality, like the curious halo seen on dewy 
grass in moonlight — always just beyond. Stoop to 
look closely and it is gone. Walk on, and it glitters 
softly like an elf-lantern held before one's feet, and 
one must needs follow where it leads. In like manner 
Thea Basset seemed to be always just beyond, and 
perhaps in this elusiveness lay her greatest charm. 
And her beauty? Yes, that was as unique as her 
charm. Who would have expected to find in this 
out-of-the-way place a girl like warm ivory, with eyes 
deep as midnight, and dusky hair with gold glints in 
it. Absurd that such a face should be left in the 
provinces. How much would Basset give his god- 
daughter on her marriage? Parfitt wished he knew. 
He did not doubt his own power to induce Thea to 
marry him. ' Women never know their own minds,' 
he reflected contemptuously ; and her dislike of him 
would give zest to what he called his ' training of her ' 
after marriage. For like all persons of his type, he was 
resolved upon destroying, or at least suppressing, the 
personality that had drawn his notice. There is a 
splendid butterfly ; catch it. Well, what are you going 
to do with it? Why, pull off its wings, of course. 
There! it is only a common grub, after all. And the 



42 Quality Corner 

wings ? Oh, they are nothing. Only a thin membrane 
and a httle grey fluff — look ! Certainly, they are noth- 
ing. 

All these ideas had been simmering in Parfitt's 
mind before the advent of James Cassilis. There 
had also existed an obstacle to the artist's Alnaschar- 
like plans, namely, Anthony Occleston. Between 
him and Parfitt flourished a fine healthy animosity. 
Occleston greatly admired his old playmate Thea, 
and his honest affection made him sharp-sighted 
enough to perceive the drift of Mark's vague inten- 
tions. Even without this incentive to discord, the 
two men differed too essentially ever to have agreed. 
Tony nursed his wrath and counted the months that 
must elapse before the Woffendale fresco was finished. 
Parfitt met him with supercilious ease; Occleston 
could hardly prove a serious rival. But when Cassilis 
appeared on the scene the situation altered. He was 
not a man whom it was possible to ignore, and his 
instant popularity was easily seen. Evidently Basset 
liked him, Thea smiled upon him, Anthony Occleston 
was prepared to admire him, even though Thea so 
smiled. This Parfitt clearly saw as he sat in Emily 
Darnton's drawing-room that night, looking about 
him with cold unsmiling eyes and inwardly debating 
whether he would definitely enter the lists against 
Occleston, and possibly against Cassilis. Perhaps 
the grapes were not worth plucking. He would not 
acknowledge that they hung too high. How much 
money would Basset give the girl ? She was beautiful, 
certainly, and there would be the amusement of tam- 
ing a woman who disliked him. He would enjoy 
plucking off those shimmering wings, destroying that 



A Study of Remorse 43 

odd quality of seeming always beyond reach. And 
through his thoughts ran ever the puzzle, where had 
he seen Cassilis ? — where ? — and when ? 

It was about half-past eleven when the Corner 
dispersed, Tony Occleston grumbling because he was 
obliged to return to Woffendale by the twelve train. 

' Got to see a fellow on business at five, o'clock 
to-morrow morning. Such an hour ! But he's off 
abroad, that's why. Pity to lose my walk home. It's 
such a jolly night.' 

This remark of Tony's put an idea into Thea's 
mind. 

' Emily,' she said when all the others had gone 
and only Basset, Cassilis. and herself were standing 
at the door of Number Three, ' this is the mystic 
Eve of St. John. Let us go up the hill and gather 
fern-seed in Mannannen's garden.' 

Emily shook her head. ' I wish I could, but I am 
really too tired with walking about Woffendale this 
afternoon.' 

' It is the only night in the year when you can 
gather fern-seed,' protested Thea. ' It falls at mid- 
night. Will you come, Dr. Cassilis ? ' 

' With pleasure. I have never gathered fern-seed.' 

* Neither have I,' laughed Emily. ' Bring me some, 
please. Good-night.' 

And she closed her door. Basset opened his with 
a latchkey. 

' Come in, Cassilis,' he said. ' You had better put 
on a cloak, Thea.' 

' Yes, I meant to do so. I will not be a minute.' 

She disappeared, and Basset took up a parcel that 
had come for him. 



44 Quality Corner 

' Ah, this is the pamphlet I wanted. I think I will 
sit down and read it now.' 

Here Thea returned, having thrown over her gown 
a long cloak of dove-coloured silk with a hood that 
she drew over her head. 

' What an elfin garment ! ' said Cassilis. 

* Is it not ? ' she replied gaily. * Surely you would 
not have me gather fern-seed in a modern hat with a 
dead bird on it ? This cloak might be Titania's, made 
of grey cobweb. Now, Daddy, are you ready ? ' 

Basset was eagerly turning over the leaves of the 
pamphlet : 

* My dear, I should like to read this. Can you not 
go with Cassilis ? ' 

' Very well. Come along, Dr. Cassilis and I will 
show you a magic garden by starlight.' 



CHAPTER V 

SO Thea and Cassilis went out into the dim blue 
night, walking slowly up the road. There were 
still lights in most of the houses about the market- 
place, and Quality Corner was brilliant, every house 
brightly illuminated except Number One, which 
showed only a feeble glimmer in the hall. 

* My abode presents a most dismal appearance,' 
said Cassilis, glancing back. ' I must tell my house- 
keeper to put more lights about, even if I am not at 
home.' 

' People are accustomed to seeing it rather dark,' 
said Thea. ' Dr. Smith was also a solitary bachelor.' 

' So is Miss Damton a solitary bachelor. My house 
shall look as cheerful as Miss Damton's.' 

The hill on which Ringway stood was a merciful 
elevation: it reared itself starward by a reasonable 
slope that could be mounted in leisurely fashion, with- 
out thought or effort; and thus strolling, Cassilis per- 
ceived on his first night in Ringway the peculiar 
quality of the air. It was of a cool, moist, velvety soft- 
ness, with a scarcely perceptible forest scent in it, 
as though breathing from spaces of wet moss and fern. 
Yet how dry the road was, despite the brief shower 
that evening. Cassilis remarked on this. 

' You will always find it so,' replied Thea. * Most 
of the hill is sand, and what is not sand is peat. Per- 
haps that is why the rain here never seems to chill, 

45 



46 Quality Corner 

though, as I told you, we live in a perpetual rainbow- 
shower. Or perhaps the real cause is the fairy spells 
that hold Ringway in their grasp. Remember this is 
Midsummer Eve, and speak respectfully of the Troll 
folk.' 

' I begin to think I am walking with one,' look- 
ing at the hooded figure in glimmering grey beside 
him. 

She laughed. ' Who knows ? Are you afraid of 
coming with me ? ' 

' Not in the least.' 

They were now nearly at the top of the hill. Be- 
hind them the road stretched dimly down to Quality 
Corner, where the lights sparkled faintly in the dis- 
tance. On either side were dark hedges and fields, 
with scattered houses looming darkly against the sky. 
From the gardens came a puff of mignonette, a puff of 
lily-scent ; then the olive-black line of Ringway woods 
rose before them, and the forest odours of moss and 
fern again filled the soft warm night. Over the woods, 
low in the south-west, Antares blazed in the Scorpion's 
glittering curve. 

' What is the opinion of Pythagoras concerning 
wild-fowl ? ' inquired Thea. 

' " That the soul of our grandam might haply in- 
habit a bird," ' replied Cassilis promptly. 

' I am glad you know your Shakespeare. Well, 
like Malvolio, I think more nobly of the soul. But 
were I a Pythagorean I should hope to become an 
owl on summer nights like this, that I might enjoy 
the dewy darkness and listen to the unaccustomed 
sounds. Night is the time when the earth talks to 
itself, and I like to hear it. Also, I like the stars. 



A Study of Remorse 47 

Do you see the Scorpion's Heart over there? — just 
above the trees.' 

' Antares ? Yes. The red star of summer. It is 
bright to-night.' 

Then he turned to look at his companion's face 
by the Hght of the Scorpion's Heart and other stars, 
but starshine is dim, and the grey-clad figure beside 
him appeared shadowy, elf-like, in the gloom. He 
felt rather than saw the lustre of her eyes; still more 
he noticed the rippling cadences of her voice, ' soft as 
running water at night.' 

Youth was returning to him, the youth that he had 
forgotten. 

' We are not going into the woods,' said that won- 
derful voice, ' but on the hillside. This is the way.' 

' This ' was a lane turning off the road northwards, 
with hedges and trees on either side, the interlacing 
branches forming a canopy so dense that no ray of 
starlight pierced the obscurity. Cassilis could not see 
the ground whereon he walked. It was soft to the 
tread and sloped rapidly. Then he ran into the hedge 
and a startled bird flew out. 

' Where are you. Dr. Cassilis ? ' enquired the melo- 
dious voice, this time with laughter in its tones. ' You 
are waking all the birds ! The lane is dark and the 
moss slippery, but we shall be out on the hillside in a 
moment.' 

' Oh, the lane is moss-paven, is it ? I thought it was 
too velvety for grass.' 

' Everything is mossy here,' said Thea, as they 
emerged from the leafy tunnel. ' Come round this cor- 
ner — there ! Now listen ! ' 

They were standing a little way down the hill- 



48 Quality Corner 

side, facing north-west and looking over a wide dusky 
valley that spread grey and olive under the violet- 
blue of the sky. Behind, meadows rose steeply to the 
woods ; in front, meadows sloped downwards, all grey, 
blurred, and shadowy, bounded by deeper shadows 
that were hedges. Farther away, yet deeper shadows 
lay on the olive-greyness — copses, thickets, farm- 
house nestling among trees ; and farther still, the olive- 
darkness melting into the blue. To the left ran the 
lane, pale in the night, with a few cottages at a little 
distance , their windows dark under the eaves ; gnome- 
dwellings they looked at this hour — low, indistinct, 
half-hidden in leafage. A sinking crescent moon hung 
in the west, vividly reflected in a sheet of water — 
a silver point of light in the distance. 

' Listen ! ' repeated Thea. ' This is the time when 
the spring talks loudest.' 

The night was very still and full of scent. Cassilis 
fancied he must be standing on thyme; then a wan- 
dering breeze brought from the meadows the sweet 
fresh smell of ripening grass, and from the hedges 
the breath of honeysuckle. He listened, and heard a 
liquid gurgle that seemed to come from the roots of an 
old thorn close beside him. It paused and whispered, 
then laughed and whispered again, all in singing rip- 
ples — was it a primaeval Thea ? 

' Is it a Dryad ? ' he asked. 

' It is a little spring that rises below the hawthorn 
and flows away down the hill. By day one can hardly 
hear it, but at night it is almost a living thing.' 

* Tell me some more,' said Cassilis. * This place is 
bewitched. I feel it. Tell me more.' 

Perhaps the place was not so much", bewitched as 



A Study of Remorse 49 

was Cassilis himself. He had always been so gentle, 
grave, and patient that people had unconsciously 
treated him as a man older than he really was ; girls 
had appealed to him — relied upon him as on an elder 
brother. Thea Basset alone had regarded him as a 
comrade. There was exhilaration in her presence, 
in the oddness of standing beside her at midnight on 
this wild hillside. The very dimness of the owl-light 
gave strangeness to the charm of the scarcely visible 
figure in its rustling grey garments, rustling that 
might be only the rustling of the leaves. He knew 
how brilliant were the eyes, how lovely the face that 
he could not see for the folds of the hood. 

She pointed towards the silver sparkle of the sink- 
ing moon on the distant water. ' Do you think that 
is fern-seed? It is said to shine like silver when it 
falls. Perhaps earth-clocks are wrong, and it is past 
midnight and the fern-seed has fallen.' 

' Doubtless that is the fern-seed shining,' he replied. 
* It always shines too far away, always beyond our 
reach. But you possess one of its gifts, for you walk 
invisible.' 

* Did I not tell you I was a fairy ? Now look 
down there, straight down below us. That pale line 
is an old road to Wofifendale. One night, a hundred 
and fifty years ago, armed men rode along it ; there 
were many Cheshire and Lancashire men " out in the 
forty-five," if you know what that means ? ' interroga- 
tively. 

' Solomon Ingers was good enough to explain the 
phrase to me this morning. Is this history you are 
telling me? ' 

' No, it is fact. Well, every man of the troop was 



^o Quality Corner 

killed. But the Ringway people say that they are 
often seen returning. They ride onward like a wave, 
with glints of steel here and there.' 

' Surely/ said CassiHs meditatively, ' the latter part 
of your story belongs to history, not fact.' 

' To both. For there are glancing lights to be seen 
down there sometimes. Perhaps the gleams are star- 
reflections in the puddles, perhaps the Ringway men 
returning. Who shall say ? ' 

Thea paused a moment, and the little spring 
whispered and rippled and the night wind stirred the 
grasses. 

' I believe it all,' her listener protested, ' I believe 
everything ! ' 

' There are other and older stories of the hillside,' 
she continued. ' You are right in thinking it be- 
witched. Do you see a dark Hne in the north-west? 
That is a low hill called the Ridge, and on it lies buried 
a mighty wizard, Mannannen Mac-y-Leir. It is said 
he had a magic garden here, and that this hillside is 
therefore still under the enchantment of Mannannen's 
spells.' 

'What is their eflfect?' 

' Oh many things. Strange plants grow at mid- 
night, blossom, and die in an hour. Some are good, 
some evil ; and as people do not know which is which 
they are afraid of gathering them.' 

* Even if they ever see them? ' 

' Even when they see them,' Thea corrected gravely. 
' Another legend says that not Mannannen but Canute 
is buried on the Ridge. A third tradition, and the 
one I like best, says that neither Mannannen nor 
Canute lies there, but a mightier Ruler than either, 



A Study of Remorse 51 

a king to whom all men once came for justice. He 
is still believed to ride about the country between 
here and the Ridge from sunset till dawn. If you 
could lay hand on his bridle you would obtain your 
heart's desire. But he rides so swiftly that even as 
you hear the sound of his horse's hoofs he is gone. 
In old times people worshipped at the king's grave, 
and even now there is a curious feeling about the 
tumulus. No one when passing it speaks of any in- 
justice, lest the king's rest should be disturbed by 
hearing of wrong that he cannot right.' 

* That is a fine idea,' Cassilis observed thought- 
fully. 

* Yes, is it not ? It impressed me very much when 
I was a child. I used to wonder why he did not 
hear and see injustice when he was riding about, but 
there is always some inconsistency in these legends. 
Often I sat here at dusk and fancied I heard the gal- 
loping hoofs. There is a measured beating in the 
air at times — the echo, I suppose, of some distant 
sound.' 

' So the hillside is a magic garden where a king 
rides nightly, and slain men return from the battle- 
field. Are there any more legends? I am falling 
under the spell of these " enchantments old." I too 
shall return hither like the Ringway men.' 

' Do you feel like a ghost already ? ' 

' No — yes — no, I think not. I wish to gather some 
of the magic fern-seed before I die.' 

' Then now is the time. The church clock is striking 
twelve. Hark ! ' 

Slowly the strokes followed each other, filling the 
air with deep reverberations that seemed to float away 



52 Quality Corner 

over the valley. Then, to Cassilis's amazement, the 
chimes suddenly struck up the rollicking tune of — 

* There is na luck about the house. 

There is na luck at a', 
There is na luck about the house 

When my gudeman's awa' ! ' 

' Of all the ,' he began, and burst into a fit of 

laughing, in which Thea joined; and their laughter 
echoed over the hillside, mingling with the jovial 
clanging of the chimes. Then the ringing ceased, the 
air trembled a little, and all the night again became 
hushed and still. 

' What a goblin entertainment you are giving me ! ' 
said Cassilis. 

' Am I not ? We are proud of those chimes. There 
is nothing like them anywhere.' 

' I should imagine not ! ' 

' And you were so busy laughing that you forgot 
to gather the fern-seed as midnight sounded. Look, 
it is gone.* 

Cassilis looked to the left where the silver sparkle 
had shone. It had vanished. The crescent moon 
had sunk, and the water no longer glittered; all the 
valley was dark. 

' Next Midsummer Eve,' he said, * I will not be 
distracted from my purpose by those chimes. I will 
stuff my ears like the girl in the fairy tale. Then I 
may be more lucky. And if I am no longer here,' — 
what impelled him to utter the words ? — ' my ghost 
shall come. Perhaps ghosts are better able to gather 
fern-seed than we who are still in this mortal coil.' 

* Oh ! this is getting too weird altogether ! ' cried 



A Study of Remorse 53 

Thea with a little shiver. * The fern-seed is gone, 
Dr. Cassihs, and we must go too. If we stay here 
any longer we shall be turning into ghosts before our 
time.' 

They turned back round the corner by the haw- 
thorn and through the leafy darkness of the moss- 
paven lane, and out on the high-road again, where the 
Scorpion's Heart burnt redly in the blue south-west 
and the lights of Quality Corner glimmered below. 
A few minutes more brought them to Number Two, 
where Basset sat placidly reading his book. 

* Got any fern-seed ? ' he enquired when the two 
appeared before him. Thea answered : ' No. We 
might have done so, had not Dr. Cassilis broken the 
spell by laughing at the chimes. But we have seen 
the seed.' 

' And it is a great satisfaction to know that it exists,* 
said Cassilis. 



CHAPTER VI 

SEVEN o'clock on Midsummer morning in Ring- 
way; blue and beautiful — the pale blue of the 
north-west, where silvery mists hang in the air, giving 
the distance its peculiar softness. Through the blue 
dewiness James Cassilis climbed Ringway hill on its 
southern side, which was not the reasonable slope he 
had walked up to hear the chimes at midnight, but a 
tolerably steep ascent. He had discovered a flight of 
worn stone steps leading up to the church, and he 
ran up these with a boyish feeling of elation. His 
life in Ringway seemed to have begun well. He had 
fallen, not among thieves, but friends. Basset, Emily 
Darnton, Occleston, Rudell, a rich patient in Galloway, 
that unexpected ramble with Thea Basset on the 
hillside ; then confused pleasant dreams, a summons at 
dawn to another patient farther away down in the 
vale ; and now homeward in the sunny morning with 
that sense of renewed youth and hope that had so sud- 
denly inspired him. Certainly there was Mark Parfitt, 
standing as it were like the grim guest at the feast. 
But Cassilis was not thinking of him as he sprang up 
the steps, pausing for a moment at the top to look at 
the old red sandstone church, rosy in the early sun- 
light, and the great southern sweep of valley below it. 
Then he turned his back on church and vale, and 
for a moment stood considering which of two roads 

54 



A Study of Remorse 55 

to take — either would lead him back to the town. 
The more direct of the two was bordered by red- 
stemmed pines at equal distances, like sentinels be- 
side the way. Someone was coming along this road; 
white gleams appeared and disappeared between the 
trees, and Cassilis was at once convinced that this 
was the best — indeed, the only route to take. He went 
pine-wards, and the gleams resolved themselves into 
Thea Basset, wearing a white gown and broad straw 
hat, and carrying a sheaf of blue and white iris. 

* The iris was once called Gladwyn,' she said, hold- 
ing out the flowers by way of greeting. ' I am taking 
these to decorate the church.' 

She did not ask him why he was there, or where 
he had been, seeming to accept his presence as a 
matter of course on that quiet road in the morning 
light. Nor did Cassilis offer any explanation, but 
turned and walked beside her, saying in reply : 

' This is St. John's day, is it not ? ' 

' Therefore I decorate the church. I don't do it 
for the other saints, only for the two St. Johns. I 
make favourites, you see.' 

' Then what becomes of the other saints ? ' 

* Oh, other people look after them.' 

' Will the doors be open at this hour ? ' 

' The vestry door. At least I think so. If not, I 
must get the key.' 

The vestry door yielded to a push, and they entered 
the cool dim church, their footsteps echoing along 
the aisles. There was no one else there ; only the 
summer morning filled the building. The sunshine 
struck through the mullioned windows in slant shafts 
of light that wherever they touched lit the red sand- 



56 Quality Corner 

stone to rosy flame. Songs of birds came in on a little 
breeze, seeming to deepen the silence and the peace. 

' I share your admiration of the Baptist,' said 
Cassilis as Thea untied her sheaf of iris. ' If he had 
chosen to preach a good average sermon free from 
personalities, he might have ended as Herod's private 
chaplain. Instead, he preferred to be one of the 
world's stupendous failures.' 

' The failures that were deferred successes,' said 
Thea. 

' Yes, that is what I mean.' 

Then he fell silent, watching Thea's movements 
as she went to and fro, placing a handful of iris here, 
another handful there. The sunbeams streaming 
through the stained glass of the great east window 
filled all the chancel with rainbow lights — little pools 
of violet and rose on the red marble floor, amethyst 
and crimson flecks on Thea's white gown, glimmer- 
ings of purple and amber high up on the warm sand- 
stone of the walls ; and it seemed to Cassilis as though 
he might stand for ever in that iris-scented rose-hued 
church, full of sunlit glory and silent save for those 
light footsteps on the marble and bird-songs without 
in the summer morning. 

After a while he spoke. ' Do you know the story 
of the Monk Felix ? ' 

' Am I not a Troll maiden ? I know all stories. 

" As in a dream of rest, 
Walked the Monk Felix." ' 

* Yes, well this is my dream of rest. Have I been 
here a few minutes or a hundred years ? Is the world 
outside the same as when we left it? Or shall we 



A Study of Remorse 57 

find " the nations' airy navies grappling in the central 
blue " ? ' 

' If we do,' said Thea, throwing back her head 
with a little defiant gesture, ' I am quite sure England's 
navy will be on the top, nearest the Polestar.' 

Cassilis laughed. ' How patriotically warlike you 
are!' 

' Of course. I am always glad St. George of En- 
gland is a fighting saint.' 

' Certainly the Roman centurion seems a suitable 
patron for us. St. George's military character would 
naturally impel him to cheer the British bull-dog on 
to the fight, instead of " with a Httle hoard of maxims 
preaching down a soldier's heart." ' 

It was Thea who laughed now. ' I see you are as 
warlike as I,' she said, turning to her iris flowers 
again, and once more the sunny silence reigned in the 
church. 

Presently Cassilis broke the stillness by remarking 
that nobody knew where he was. 

' I let myself quietly out of the house when I was 
called to a patient, and forgot to leave a note to say 

where I was going. So if anyone wants me Never 

mind; this is better. Whether Quality Comer is pre- 
paring its breakfast, or the Red Cross of St. George 
blowing against the Polestar, as you suggest, it is all 
the same to me. I will enjoy my dream of rest. Per- 
haps it may last the hundred years. Perhaps for ever, 
your irises unfading and this midsummer morning 
eternal.' 

Thea regarded him critically. ' Your mind is be- 
coming unhinged. Monk Felix. Something must be 
done to bring you back to this present world. I 



58 Quality Corner 

will take you into the churchyard and show you the 
southern view of the valley. We can go out by the 
south porch.' 

They went down the chancel steps into the nave, 
passing from the prismatic colours of the east window 
into the white sunshine that illumined the body of the 
church. In the west transept Thea stopped and 
looked back to where the chancel glowed in its rain- 
bow light. 

* My irises stand out well,' she said. ' Blue and 
white are the only colours one can use among all that 
ruby and violet.' 

' They are dream-flowers,' said Cassilis. ' They be- 
long to my dream of rest : their name means the rain- 
bow, and they signify hope.' 

* Your slumber. Monk Felix, appears to be unusu- 
ally profound. Come out into the workaday world.' 

' There is no workaday world,' he declared, as he 
followed her into the churchyard, * if by workaday is 
meant prosaic. The natural world is perfect : and the 
artificial world — that is, civilised man and his doings 
— I have always found remarkably curious and interest- 
ing.' 

' Sometimes. In patches.' 

' I find him interesting all round, dead or living, 
at all times and all places.' 

' These are interesting.' Thea extended one hand 
over the flat mossy gravestones under their feet. 
' Some of them I knew, and of nearly all I know the 
histories and the descendants. There are a very few 
old stones on which the names are obliterated. This 
is dead Ringway. They live in the town down there 
behind us, and then lie here in the sunshine; the 



A Study of Remorse 59 

church bells ringing over them and their friends com- 
ing round them every Sunday. Does it not all seem 
simple and peaceful ? ' 

' Very peaceful,' assented Cassilis. 

Ringway churchyard did look very peaceful that 
brilHant June morning, lying as it did full to the 
south, overlooking the valley, the church seeming to 
gather the gravestones round her, protecting the dead 
while their slumber lasted — the dead who from child- 
hood to old age had worshipped within those walls. 

Thea led the way to a lilac bush. ' Here,' said she, 
looking down on a stone that bore the name of Martha 
Grundy, ' lies a nice old woman who kept a little 
shop where I used to buy beads at a halfpenny a thim- 
bleful. She died when she was ninety. I wish she 
had lived to be a hundred.' 

' I am not sure that old women who sell beads at 
a halfpenny a thimbleful ought to live to be a hundred. 
The price seems to me outrageous.' 

" It was a very big thimble, and she was such a 
sweet old woman, always smiling.' 

' No wonder ! — with such profits.' 

Thea's charming rippling laugh blended with the 
songs of the birds. Then she bent down a blossoming 
bough of the lilac. 

' You know Daddy's theories ? He says the scent 
of lilac fits people for gentle duties. Do you agree ? ' 

She turned the lilac towards Cassilis, shaking it 
a little, so that the homely fragrance spread on the 
air. 

* Perhaps,' he replied, ' to respect your old bead- 
woman may be a gentle duty. Already I feel mollified. 
No doubt that is the result of the lilac' 



6o Quality Corner 

The bough swung back, faint purple against the 
turquoise sky. 

' Everybody argues as to which side of Ringway 
is the prettier, the north or the south,' Thea continued. 
' It is a question that can never be settled, because it 
depends upon individual fancy; so they argue the 
more. I prefer the north ; it is wilder, and has the 
legends. Do you like looking down on the homes of 
men from a height? I do. The being up aloft is 
soothing to one's vanity, I suppose. Have you any 
vanity. Dr. Cassilis ? ' 

' Many vanities. They are more numerous than the 
hairs of my head.' 

' What is your most rampant vanity ? ' 

' The universal one — my own importance.' 

Which statement was not true, for it never occurred 
to Cassilis to reflect whether he was important or not. 
But just now he was not heeding his utterances. The 
dewy peace of the morning, the pleasant novelty of 
Ringway, Thea Basset's presence, all sent his spirits 
up to a point of irresponsible joyousness that had not 
been his for many years. Was he ' fey ' ? Anyway, 
he was happy, and spoke with the carelessness of hap- 
piness. 

His companion listened with the same smiling un- 
belief she had shown the previous evening, and again 
Cassilis felt the inspiriting effect of that unbelief. She 
pointed to the clock. 

' A quarter to eight. Time to go home.' 
' Let us stay and hear the chimes,' he suggested. 
Thea shook her head. ' You can stay and hear them 
if you like, but we breakfast at a quarter past.' 
* Very well,' resignedly. 



A Study of Remorse 6i 

' What is your breakfast hour, Dr. Cassilis ? ' 

' I have not the least idea/ 

' Did you not order it ? ' 

' No, I forgot all about it.' 

' Then will you breakfast with us ? When I tell 
Daddy I met you here he will expect to see you as a 
matter of course.' 

' I should like it immensely, if you are sure I shall 
not be a nuisance. It's like befriending a stray dog, 
you know. He's never off the doorstep.' 

' Why should he be ? Is it not better to stay with 
one's friends ? ' 

* At the risk of wearying them ? ' 

' Daddy never grows weary of people, a character- 
istic for which I especially admire him. He merely 
feels somewhat harassed when he meets a man who 
has absolutely no sense of smell. He regards him as 
an outer barbarian, and is troubled. But you are in 
high favour, as being a promising subject for experi- 
ment in the matter of perfumes.' 

' Mr. Basset shall experiment upon me to his heart's 
content,' responded Cassilis, as they turned out of 
the churchyard into the pine-bordered road. ' Ringway 
itself appears to be doing so already. Last night it 
smelt of moss and thyme. To-day it smells of iris and 
lilac. What will be to-morrow's scent? ' 

' Who can tell till to-morrow ? ' said Thea, with the 
light soft gaiety that struck a strangely familiar chord 
in Cassihs's memory. Surely he had once met someone 
who resembled her, in manner at least. Yet he was 
positive he never had. 

And so, talking idly, pleasantly, they walked home 
along the country road to Quality Corner. 



CHAPTER VII 

ALL Quality Corner usually breakfasted at the same 
hour, therefore all Quality Corner was aware 
that the new tenant of Number One had accompanied 
Thea Basset home and was breakfasting at Number 
Two. Emily Darnton, sitting solitary at Number 
Three, told herself that perhaps it would have been 
wiser not to have refused the invitation to gather 
fern-seed the night before. For Emily had been im- 
pressed by the newcomer. * But I can never compete 
with Thea out of doors,' she reflected. ' I carry the 
house with me, like a snail. My conversation is indoor, 
whereas Thea becomes a part of everything somehow. 
However, I don't suppose she wants the man. It is 
only her habit of talking to everybody. Besides, I am 
not sure ' Here Miss Darnton's thoughts wan- 
dered off into many possibilities. 

At Number Four, Parfitt, half turning in his chair 
to look into the street, remarked carelessly : 

' I have met him somewhere before.' 

Rudell glanced up from his plate. * Who ? Cassi- 
lis?' 

' Yes. I remembered his face the moment I saw him 
last night, but I cannot recall where I saw him, nor 
the circumstances.' 

Mark's chill impassive tones had the property of 
conveying a subtle doubt of the person of whom he 

62 



A Study of Remorse 63 

chanced to speak, so that Mrs. Rudell responded 
briskly : 

* Do try to remember. I hke to know things about 
people, especially when they come mysteriously into a 
place, as Dr. Cassilis has done.' 

Rudell looked up again. ' My dear, there is nothing 
mysterious about Dr. Cassilis's arrival here. He 
bought the practice in the ordinary way, just as Smith 
did.' 

* Oh, Dr. Smith was the sort of a man who never 
has any story. But this Dr. Cassilis might have a 
dozen stories belonging to him.' 

' I have a vague idea that he is connected in my 
mind with a tale of some sort,' said Parfitt. 

' Then try your very hardest to recollect,' cried his 
sister eagerly. 

' If I try to remember I shall infallibly forget. The 
way to remember is to try to forget.' 

Rudell felt slightly annoyed. * Really, Susette, it is 
not fair to imply that a stranger's past must neces- 
sarily be something he would rather hide. Dr. Cassi- 
lis's affairs are no concern of ours. He seems a clever 
fellow. I v.'Onder he has not done better in life ; he 
can hardly be without ambition. If he is, that gives 
him an additional pull.' 

'How? I do not see that,' demurred Mrs. Rudell. 

' Don't you ? Which has the more time and oppor- 
tunity for thinking and observing, the man who is 
scrambling up a ladder in company with a thousand 
others, all trying to get to the top at once, or the 
man who stands aside and watches the scramble ? ' 

* Now, Gregory, that is not polite to Mark, who is 
famous.' 



64 Quality Corner 

' Oh, well, Parfitt is at the top of the ladder.' 

' Not quite the tipmost top,' said Parfitt, with ar- 
rogant modesty. * But Cassilis's indifference to the 
noble science of getting on may simply be a, natural 
proneness to remain at the bottom.' 

' Not with that head,' said Rudell. 

' In any case,' pursued Mark blandly, ' he is admir- 
ably adapted to the people of Ringway, whose am- 
bition appears to centre in the wish to remain where 
they are, physically and mentally.' 

Parfitt was distinctly angry. There had been an 
implied rebuke in Rudell's observations, and this the 
artist resented. However, his opinion of Ringway did 
not seem to ruffle his brother-in-law, for the latter 
replied serenely : 

' I doubt whether there are many better fates for 
a man than to tread the same familiar ground from 
youth to age, and lay his bones at last among the 
gravestones over which he played leap-frog when a 
boy.' 

Parfitt looked condescendingly incredulous. ' Is 
leap-frog permitted in the churchyard? I should not 
have imagined so.' 

' It is not. Hence the enjoyment.' 

' What ! ' exclaimed his wife. ' Do you mean to 
tell me, Gregory, that you played leap-frog in Ring- 
way churchyard ? ' 

' Often, my dear, and so did Basset. Once I broke 
my leg in trying to out-leap Basset, and my father 
promised me a thrashing as soon as my leg was well. 
I got it too,' added Rudell with a smile. 

* And did it stop you playing leap-frog afterwards? ' 
asked Parfitt. 



A Study of Remorse 65 

* ' Not in the least. But none the less was the thrash- 
ing wholesome for me. It gave me a due sense of 
law and order. I may not have been better with it, 
but I should undoubtedly have been worse without it; 
therefore I was the better for the experience, and am 
still. No use looking for immediate results. The 
good effects of a judicious thrashing may not be visible 
for twenty years.' 

* What surprises me,' said Mrs. Rudell, ' is that any- 
one in Ringway can have the smallest respect for 
either you or Mr. Basset after witnessing, as they must 
have done, your youthful exploits.' 

' Pooh, my dear. They like us all the better.' 

' I comprehend/ observed Parfitt slowly. ' Quite 
clannish and antique — mediaeval, rather. Well, that 
is against a stranger.' 

His sister laughed. ' Are you thinking of Dr. 
Cassilis ? How he interests us all ! Whatever he does 
or has done, I do hope he will not cure Mr. Gallo- 
way's gout, for each attack means a new will to be 
made. I have had several new gowns out of those 
wills, and I want some more.' 

Meanwhile Cassilis, unconscious that his doings 
aroused any particular interest, was enjoying his break- 
fast at Number Two. There certainly was something 
to be said for Basset's theories of perfume and colour. 
How pleasant was that fragrant room with its vary- 
ing shades of amethyst and faint purple, and the soft 
harmony of the pale lavender iris in the tall murrey- 
coloured glass. 

' Yes,' said Basset, replying to a remark respecting 
the charm of the room ; ' after much reflection on the 
subject, I decided that violet in its lighter shades is 



66 Quality Corner 

the colour best adapted to promote cheerfulness in a 
company of human beings of varying temperaments. 
Dull muddy colouring is depressing, and a dark green 
or dark red dining-room is apt to foster a terrible 
self-consciousness. That is why agnostics and bad- 
tempered people usually take their defiant meals in 
apartments of those sulkily aggressive hues. On the 
other hand, sunny reds, greens, golds, soft June blues, 
might, by their very brightness, jar upon overworked 
or saddened men and women. Put pale violet — 
united rose and turquoise — is the exact mingling of 
gaiety and gravity suitable to every mood. Whether 
you are glad or sorrowful, violet harmonises and you 
eat and drink in peace; just as violets were strewn 
equally on table and on tomb by that nation of dinner- 
givers, the Romans.' 

' And the iris ? ' said Cassilis interrogatively. He 
liked to see Basset well mounted on his hobby. 

' I consider the scent of the iris,' replied his host, 
' a distinct stimulant — less soothing than the pinks, 
but more intellectual ; and, equally with the pinks and 
all sweet odours, tending to lightheartedness. I shc»uld 
describe the iris perfume as debonair, soldierly, artistic. 
It is the Crusader, the Cellini ; equally at home in war 
and art. We see the gold lilies of France flying against 
the blue in Palestine, the lily of St. Mark shining in 
Venetian marble, and the red liHes of Florence flame 
through Dante's pages.' 

' I thought,' said Cassilis, ' that the lilies of Florence 
were the white iris ? ' 

' Once they were,' said Thea. ' Do you not re- 
member how Dante laments the change of colour from 
white to red ? ' 



A Study of Remorse 67 

' I do remember now. How could I have forgotten ? 
I thought I knew my Dante well. But that is in the 
" Paradise." ' 

* Do you not often walk in Paradise ? ' 

' Not often. My feet are more familiar with the 
descending circles.' 

' When I was eight years old,' Thea went on, ' I 
painted in childish fashion two pictures : one was the 
death of Buonconte. To my profound astonishment, 
nobody knew anything of Buonconte except my 
father — I mean my real father; it was before he died. 
He understood my picture at once, and repeated the 
passage. The incident shook my faith in all other 
grown-up people. I reflected in my small mind that 
if they were ignorant of Dante they were ignorant 
indeed.' 

Cassilis laughed. ' It would have been more sur- 
prising had they known. What was your other pic- 
ture ? ' 

* Whitsuntide merry-making — a people's holiday, 
you know. And as I naturally possessed no know- 
ledge whatever of perspective, my merry-making 
looked like the Day of Judgment in a very old paint- 
ing — rows and rows of figures going up and up to 
the top of the picture. Only when you observed it 
closely, you perceived such mundane vanities as 
merry-go-rounds, hurdy-gurdies, and dancing.' 

' Where are these works of art ? ' asked Cassilis. 

' Gone — lost — destroyed long ago. Who would 
keep such childish scribbles ? ' 

' I wish they had been kept,' remarked Basset. ' I 
should like to have seen them. Not on account of 
their artistic merit,' he smiled, ' but because the sub- 



68 Quality Corner 

jects were curious for a child, and so dissimilar — op- 
posite poles of human life.' 

' Oh, I know you would have appreciated them, 
Daddy. Quite as much as my father did.' 

' How does it happen,' said Cassilis, ' that you are 
not an artist, since your natural bent showed itself 
thus?' 

' I do not think it was my natural bent,' replied 
Thea. ' I think those two pictures were not any evi- 
dence of capacity for art, they merely showed apprecia- 
tion of dramatic effects. I had been impressed by the 
contention of the angels for Buonconte's soul, and by 
the humour of the Whitsuntide games.' 

' What is art ? ' queried Basset. ' The best definition 
of art that I have heard was given me by a woman 
artist — " Art is the perception of beauty with the genius 
for expressing it." That is it — the gift of the seer 
and speaker in one. The ancients made no difference 
whether the thought was expressed in colour, stone, or 
words ; that is, words used as the painter uses colour 
and the sculptor light and shade — words that sound 
aright to the ear as well as mean aright. With the 
Greeks, you know, the spoken word was the test of 
excellence, and from their criticism there is no appeal. 
Language is sound, and should be harmonious sound. 
The written word is merely a chronicle of that sound. 
To write a sentence that splits one's ears is the same 
thing as uttering a screech. What should we say if a 
singer howled, and excused himself on the ground that 
the audience understood his meaning, and he had not 
time to cultivate his voice ? ' He paused a moment, 
then continued, * We talk so much of the literature of 



A Study of Remorse 69 

art that we have well-nigh lost the art of literature. 
Yet how simple it is ! Let a man buy a Latin diction- 
ary and a Greek lexicon, a Bible and a Shakespeare, a 
Mallory and a Pilgrim's Progress, and read these hum- 
bly and affectionately, and when possible, out of doors ; 
and he will give us Orcagnas or Memlings, Corots or 
Gerard Douws, according to his individuality. As for 
the present-day craze for charnel-house knowledge,' 
pursued Basset, warming up to his subject, ' I have no 
words wherewith to express my opinion of it. What 
good does it do me to knew whether I have one, two, 
or a dozen bones in my legs? Is it not better to know 
how Bayard kept the bridge at Biagasso, and what 
manner of man he was ? Such knowledge is stimulat- 
ing — vivifying ; the other is not.' 

' You perceive,' said Thea, addressing Cassilis, ' that 
Daddy reads all the literature of which he disapproves. 
He has piles of new books and magazines. He devours 
them all and then sits down and screams.' 

' Yes,' Basset acquiesced. ' Thea is the wiser. She 
only reads such books as commend themselves to her 
natural turn of mind, whereas I am in the position of a 
man who tastes things that do not agree with him. I 
do it because I wish to know what is going on in the 
world. Briefly, I am a martyr to a sense of duty — and 
curiosity.' 

' I think,' Cassilis observed reflectively, ' that our 
end-of-the-century literature is equal to our art.' 

Basset slowly passed his hand over his face. ' My 
dear Cassilis, in my most severe moods I have never 
said anything so bad as that.' 

' I intended it for a compHment to both.' 



70 Quality Corner 

* Did you ? Dear me ! ' 

' Daddy, you are unreasonable,' said Thea. ' This 
century is a very good century, books and all.' 

' Where are our Ghiberti gates ? ' demanded Basset 
impressively. ' Our buildings, what are they ? And 
how long do they last ? ' 

' We cannot compete with the old builders,' Cassilis 
agreed, looking at the pale iris flowers in the Tyrian 
glass. ' I am inclined to think that the reason old stone 
carving is so good is because in those days every man 
could wield a weapon — learnt how to use it knowing 
that at any moment he might have to fight for his life. 
The accuracy and freedom of eye and hand thus ob- 
tained told, when the hand held the chisel. For ex- 
ample, Cellini prided himself equally upon his accuracy 
of stroke, whether dealing a mortal stab or carving a 
crucifix.' 

' No doubt you are right,' assented Basset. ' What 
an entertaining scamp he was ! — Cellini, I mean. Now- 
adays our rascals are terrible bores — an unpardonable 
fault. If a man will not be moral, he might at least be 
amusing. The old debonair gaiety is departing. Peo- 
ple cannot even amuse themselves, much less others. 
Tristram no longer sings in Lyonesse, but puts his hat 
on the back of his head and yawns in a music-hall.' 
He waved his hand towards the iris : ' " Debonair," a 
fine old word! But how can a man feel debonair in 
smoke-polluted towns and chemically-poisoned mead- 
ows, where there are no birds to teach him to sing in 
the joyousness of his heart? Earth, air, and water are 
contaminated by the twin Malebolge demons called 
Science and Progress. Soon there will be neither birds 
nor sun. We shall sit under a canopy of smoke ilium- 



A Study of Remorse 71 

ined by electric light, and talk about our bones — bones 
— bones.' 

' Daddy,' interposed Thea, ' do not be so sepulchral. 
Besides, Dr. Cassilis probably takes an interest in 
bones.' 

* Only a professional interest. I am in complete 
accord with Mr. Basset's sentiments.' 

' Were you always so ? ' she enquired. ' Or are your 
present convictions the transient effect of the iris 
scent ? ' 

' Not transient. They were in my mind, written in 
invisible ink as it were. My present surroundings are 
bringing them out.' 

Basset was wholly charmed with his guest. Here 
was an appreciative companion indeed ! When at last 
Cassilis rose to go, his host allowed him to depart with 
visible reluctance. 

' You have paid my breakfast-table a high compli- 
ment ; you have talked as though you were at supper. 
I am greatly flattered.' 

* Surely,' replied Cassilis, ' the verb applies rather 
to me.' 

' Will you dine with us again this evening ? ' Basset 
looked quite eager as he said this. 

* Thank you, I should like it above all things. But 
Mr. Galloway asked me to dine there to-day, and I 
accepted.' 

* Ah,' with an indescribable inflection of voice. ' Gal- 
loway is an excellent fellow, but his dinners are ' 

Basset paused to seek a suitable expression, ' they are 
what people call wholesome. And the colouring of 
his dining-room is calculated to provoke severe indi- 
gestion. I explained this to him some time ago. He 



72 Quality Corner 

replied that he never looked round while he was eat- 
ing.' 

' So when you dine there, Dr. Cassilis,' said Thea, 
' try not to look round while you are eating.' 

' I fear,' he responded, ' that my curiosity will impel 
me to run the risk of indigestion.' 

' Well, dine with us to-morrow,' said Basset. ' And 
come in this afternoon if you can.' 

' Fate is good to me,' said Cassilis. ' Need I say I 
will come ? ' 



CHAPTER VIII 

IF Cassilis was ' fey,' then to be fey is indeed to be 
happy. All that day he trod on air, iris-tinted air. 
He built no fairy castles in his mind ; had no thought 
of the future. He simply enjoyed the sparkling present. 
If the circumstances seem but poor and slight thus to 
raise a man's spirit from the dust of many years : — 
only a new life in the green grey-clouded north-west, 
within sight — almost within sound — of Woffendale 
smoke and flame ; a welcome from a little knot of 
neighbours ; a hope of bread not too hardly earned — 
if these seem slight matters, be it remembered that over 
all these shone the light of a girl's dark eyes, and the 
man had led a lonely, remorseful life. Truly this sunny 
present so unexpectedly given to him was as a rainbow 
after the storm. 

Entering his own house, Cassilis was met by his 
housekeeper with two messages from the town — two 
more patients. He began to explain to the old woman 
how he had been called early to a house at some dis- 
tance, and had breakfasted next door, but she quietly 
replied that she had seen him go into Number Two, 
and the milkman's boy had told her ' he had fetched the 
doctor that morning to Mr. Brown's in the Vale.' 

'Oh, the milkman's boy was my guide, was he?' 
responded Cassilis, rather taken aback, and experien- 
cing that sensation as of living in a glass house which 
is familiar to dwellers in country towns. But it was a 

73 



74 Quality Corner 

pleasant sensation on the whole. After all, there is 
something very cheerful about a glass house, and un- 
doubtedly it promotes friendliness. We all like a man 
the better if we can hang over his garden wall and tell 
him his best friend has cheated him in the matter of 
that horse he has just bought. 

James Cassilis went out into the town with fresh 
enthusiasm, saw his patients, and, returning through 
the market-place about noon, was greeted by Solomon 
Ingers. The old seedsman stood sunning himself as 
usual on the top step of his shop, and conversing with 
a couple of bystanders, who discreetly withdrew as the 
doctor came up. 

' A fine day, sir,' said Solomon. 

* It is,' replied Cassilis, seeing in the old man's eye an 
inclination to gossip, and stopping accordingly, * I 
had no idea Ringway was so pretty.' 

' Then happen you'll settle down here ? ' Sol observed 
enquiringly. 

' I shall if the place will have me. I like it im- 
mensely.' 

' Th' place '11 ha' thee fast enow,' dropping into the 
famiHar thee and thou as meaning greater friendliness ; 
' th' place '11 be glad to ha' thee.' 

He opened the historic snuff-box and offered it to 
Cassilis, who took a pinch. Sol then took one; and 
after this ceremony there was a moment's silence. 

' There's a queer owd chap, a friend o' mine,' Sol 
resumed, ' that's likely to send fur yo'. His name's 
Wheeler, an' he's been ailing off an' on fur many a 
year; got a squeeze betwixt th' buffers when he wur 
on th' railway. After that, some brass coom to him, a 
matter o' six pound a week, and that made him an' his 



A Study of Remorse 75 

missis comfortable. Well, he fell out wi' Dr. Smith 
nigh on two year ago. It wur one fine spring morning, 
an' Wheeler wur hobbling round his garden wi' a stick 
— he's been pretty crooked sin' th' buffers hit him — 
when Smith coom up, an' thinking to please him, says, 
" Your case is a very interesting one, Mr. Wheeler. I 
mun write an account of it fur a medical paper. It 'ud 
excite attention." Eh, Wheeler wur that mad at th' 
idea he says, " If tha' does, I'll ha' th' law on thee." 
Smith tells him it's lawful enow, and Wheeler says, 
" Then if tha does, my nevvy shall give thee a hiding, 
as I conna do it mysen." Smith laughs an' walks off. 
But Wheeler w^ouldna ha' him again ; he wur too mad.' 

Here Sol paused, and Cassilis, feeling it was ex- 
pected of him, enquired what medical man had the care 
of Mr. Wheeler's health after Dr. Smith's dismissal. 

* Eh, never a one ! His wife wanted to send for a 
doctor fro' Woffendale, but he said happen a' th' doc- 
tors wur alike, an' if he wur to dee, he'd dee wi'out 
a' th' world knowing a' about it. It wuma reasonable,' 
said Solomon apologetically, * but Wheeler wur mad 
through an' through. An' fur to keep an eye on Smith, 
Wheeler starts taking a' th' medical papers he could 
hear on ; an' he says to me, " Th' minute I see my name 
i' these here papers, I'll set my nevvy on to Smith. Ay, 
I will that." It wur a regular job fur Wheeler to read 
'em; it took him a' his toime, not being much of a 
scholar. They'd coom in batches every week fro' th' 
newspaper shop, an' Wheeler he had to keep hard at 
'em, fur to get one batch done afore another coom.' 

' They could hardly have been very cheerful reading,' 
remarked Cassilis. 

' Happen they wurna, but when a mon's mad he 



76 Quality Corner 

loikes reading owt that '11 make him madder. He dun- 
not want to be soothed, yo' see. Wheeler kept at 'em 
steady fur nigh two year, an' then Smith left an' went 
to Australia, afore yo' coom, sir. So Wheeler says to 
me, " I'm going to stop taking them papers. If he 
writes in 'em fro' Australia, he mun write ; for I conna 
send my nevvy o'er theer after him, an' if I see my 
name in 'em an' conna get at him, it'll make me feel 
worse nor ever. So I'll look no more." ' 

' Mr. Wheeler seems to be a very sensible man,' said 
Cassilis. 

' Oh, ay, he's a sensible chap at th' bottom, an' he 
isna close wi' money. He wur telling me last neet that 
he felt a bit dull now Smith wur gone an' he'd stopped 
th' papers ; an' he wur thinking o' sending fur yo' if 
he wur sure yo' wouldna write about his being crooked.' 

Here Sol paused and looked politely interrogative. 

* No, I will not.' 

' So I told him,' Sol continued calmly. ' I told him 
I wur sure yo' wurna that sort, an' he told me he'd 
send for yo' to-day or to-morrow, an' I reckon he will, 
being that dull wi'out Smith an' the papers. Eh, but 
them papers made a noice doment i' th' place last 
Christmas ! ' 

' Indeed ? How was that ? ' 

' Well, Mrs. Wheeler didna like 'em, an' she wur 
fair sick o' seeing th' piles an' piles of 'em, so nigh on 
Christmas she sells a lot of 'em to Reid, th' grocer an' 
cheesemonger o'er theer,' Sol pointed with his snuff- 
box across the market-place. ' Being the week afore 
Christmas theer wur a goodish bit o' trade being done 
o'er the' counter, an' in less than three days them 
medical papers wur a' o'er th' town. Eh! but theer 



A Study of Remorse 77 

wur a noise ! Folks talked it o'er among theirsen an' 
a' th' women went up to Reid's shop an' hollered at 
him. " What dost tha mean? " they says, " wropping 
up Christian food i' bits o' paper a' about folks deein' 
an' being cut up aloive an' ha'ing a' th' plagues o' 
Egypt ! Noice things fur folks to read at Christmas ! 
An' a' th' little uns a-spelling 'em out too. Tha's done 
it on purpose, wi' thy nasty unbelief ! Tha conna abide 
that Christian folk should ha' their Christmas comfort- 
able. That's what's th' matter wi' thee!" Fur Reid 
wurha exactly a Christian,' said Sol parenthetically. ' I 
dunnot know precisely what he wur, an' I dunnot think 
he knew hissen, but it made him feel grand-like to say 
he wurna th' same as his neighbours. But he wur 
took to at a' th' noise, fur he didna want to get a bad 
name an' lose custom, so he put his two hands to his 
mouth — fur theer wur such a squealing yo' couldna 
hear yoursen speak, an' he shouts to th' women, " See 
here, it's no good hollering at me. I didna know what 
wur in th' papers. I bought 'em fro' Mrs. Wheeler. 
Yo' go an' holler at Wheeler's." So they went, an' 
Wheeler he coom out an' says, " Well, I didna know as 
my wife had sold any o' them papers, but it's no fault 
o' mine. It's a' Dr. Smith's doing, fur if it hadna 
been fur him I should never ha' thought o' taking 'em, 
as a' th' town knows." So the women all went home 
mad wi' Smith, an saying they wouldna ha' him to 
doctor 'em. Eh, but it did Smith a sight o' harm,' re- 
marked Sol with evident satisfaction, adding, ' Not but 
what he got summat fur hissen out of it, after a'.' 

' In what way ? ' Cassilis enquired. 

' Why, not long afore he went to Australia he met 
Mrs. Wheeler i' th' street, an' he says to her, " Have 



7 8 Quality Corner 

yo' got any more o' them papers, Mrs. Wheeler ? " fur 
of course he'd heard o' th' doment at Christmas. " A 
year's an' more," she says, " an' I hannot patience wi' 
either Wheeler or th' women. I conna sell 'em now, 
an th' house is fair choked wi' 'em." " How much did 
yo' get fur 'em ? " asks Smith. " Nobbut a halfpenny 
th' pound," she says, " fur Reid's a mean chap. But I 
wur glad to get shut on 'em." " I'll give yo' twopence 
a pound fur 'em," says Smith, " an' they'll be safe 
enough with me, yo' know, Mrs. Wheeler." So she let 
him have 'em, an' never told Wheeler who she'd sold 
'em to till Smith wur gone to Australia. Wheeler wur 
pretty mad to think he'd been buying papers fur to give 
Smith lessons in doctoring, as he said. I told him it 
wur real Scripture, a-heaping coals o' fire on his en- 
emy's head ; an' Mrs. Wheeler, she said she didna care 
who had 'em so long as she got without 'em. So theer 
wur th' end o' th' medical papers.' 

Cassilis laughed and observed that on the whole he 
thought the papers were best in his predecessor's 
hands. 

' Oh, ay, th' town's well shut on 'em, an' on Dr. 
Smith too,' in a tone of conviction. ' He wurna much 
o' a gentleman, an' he didna suit th' place. Happen 
he'll do better in Australia.' 

In the old seedsman's manner was a delicate intima- 
tion that Cassilis would suit the place. In truth, Sol 
was delighted with him. When had he had so good a 
listener as this grave deep-eyed stranger, who so sym- 
pathetically followed the windings of his gossip? Sol 
was a connoisseur in listeners. Not for nothing had 
he stood on that top step in the sun and gossiped for 
forty years and more. He perceived intuitively the 



A Study of Remorse 79 

absent mind, saw the wandering eye with the tail of 
his own, noted the restlessness of the feet that marks 
the uninterested or impatient listener. None of these 
obnoxious signs were visible about Cassilis ; and old 
Sol, being fully aware that the newcomer had already 
dined and breakfasted at Number Two, said to himself 
that ' Wi' Basset at one end an' me at th' other, it'll go 
hard but what we'll make his fortune betwixt us.' 

On his part, Cassilis was well amused by the old 
seedsman — interested also. Solomon Ingers was of a 
type that is vanishing — the sober-minded man of the 
people, content to live and die in the house wherein he 
was born ; concerning himself little about what was 
happening outside the two familiar counties, the one 
in which he lived and the one into which he could walk 
in half an hour were he minded to turn his steps to- 
wards WoflFendale. These two counties constituted his 
world, and Ringway was its centre, and himself the 
centre of Ringway. Perhaps he was a trifle too strongly 
permeated with the conviction of the eminent useful- 
ness of ' brass,' but then he was of the burgher type, 
and his shrewdness was not unkindly. In stress, old 
Sol could be depended on ; a spark could be struck out 
of him as out of flint if struck at the right angle ; and 
he had the instinct of loyalty, which is a great matter. 

In the short silence he meditatively tapped the profile 
of Charles Edward on his snufif-box. The sun shone 
on his silver head, making it the point of brightest 
light, to which his pale grey clothes, his white apron, 
his puckered face — yellow ivory, like the keys of an 
old spinet — all seemed to lead up ; the silver glint of his 
hair was the only sparkle about him. 

' Theer's another friend o' mine,' he resumed, ' a 



8o Quality Corner 

farmer over there,' with a wave of his hand north- 
west, ' who had a curious stroke o' luck yesterday — 
leastways one conna tell whether or no a woman '11 
be a stroke o' luck till one knows summat o' her ways. 
It happened i' this gait. Gresty, he's a widower wi' 
six little uns, and nobbut an owd lass o' sixty-five — owd 
Martha Plows — to see to 'em. I wur advising him to 
wed a steady lass i' th' town, none too young, an' 
wi' a noice bit o' brass in her pocket. But Gresty 's one 
o' them chaps that mun ha' a pretty face to look at. I 
oft tell 'em th' Queen's face on a sovereign is th' pret- 
tiest face yo' con look at, though I mout as well say 
nowt for a' th' notice taken ! Well, owd Martha's 
grandson works on th' farm, an' happening to coom 
into th' town this morning, he told me that farmer 
Stretton, a friend o' Gresty 's, had brought theer a 
widow-woman he'd found wanting a place. A tidy- 
looking body, th' lad told me, and fond o' children. I 
reckon if she's good-looking an' stirring, Gresty '11 
wed her. She's in luck to ha' the chance. Th' Moss 
Farm isna a bad down-sitting, an' Gresty 's an easy- 
going chap. Th' lad says she gives out she wur a 
Marbury lass, but she wedded a mon belonging to 
Bramsall, somewhere down Birmingham way.' 

' I spent some time in Bramsall once,' said Cassilis. 
* It is a miserable hole.' 

' I make no doubt on't,' replied Sol, ' an ' seeing th' 
woman belongs hereabouts, I'd be glad fur her to get 
a good home, if so be as she deserves it. She's bound 
to coom into th' town presently, an' then I con see 
what sort she is. But Stretton isna a bad judge.' 

Again ! Surely it was very strange. During ten 
years Cassilis had wandered much, from town to town 



A Study of Remorse 8i 

— never having had a practice of his own — self- 
imposed wanderings, not even staying where he might 
have stayed with advantage, till, as the years went 
on, he felt a greater peace and a greater desire for 
rest. Now in all these wanderings never once had he 
met anyone who had lived in, or who was familiar 
with Bramsall's gloomy streets and murky atmos- 
phere. Yet in this green fern-scented Ringway, on 
the first evening of his arrival he had seen again the 
man who had replied to his question that sultry mid- 
night. And on this second day a waif from that dark 
city had drifted hither across his path. Not that this 
mattered, or even dimmed his new-found gladness. 
It was but the sombre cloud against which his rain- 
bow was shining. Cassilis was not sufficiently modem 
to be jumping about on pinwire whenever anybody 
said ' Boo ! ' or fired a shot at him from behind a 
hedge. It was all in the day's march. But it was 
curious. The oddness of it struck him forcibly as he 
bade old Sol good-day and walked home, a straggler 
of the Lord's great army — one unworthy to be His 
soldier; merely a campfollower, helping that splendid 
host a little on its toilsome way. 



CHAPTER IX 

OLD Sol Ingers' friend Wheeler sent for Cassilis 
that afternoon, and as he was returning home- 
wards he met Tony Occleston coming up from the 
station. Cassilis liked the young fellow. He was so 
bright-eyed and enthusiastic, so full of exuberant 
energy, with a kind of admiring shyness in his man- 
ner like a dog begging to be taken into favour. 

* I am in my working clothes,' he said, with out- 
stretched hand and swarthy face aglow. * You must 
excuse my far from festive attire. I am in the Cy- 
clops Works, as perhaps you know, and have to work 
like Tubal-cain.' 

He looked very well in the white oil-stained blouse 
that was his working dress. There was a picturesque 
squareness about Tony that seemed in harmony with 
furnace glare and dazzle of seething steel. 

' I have great respect for Tubai-cain,' replied Cas- 
silis. 

Tony laughed. ' Yes, he must have been a capable 
sort of fellow. I like to think of him hammering 
away at his forge in the morning of the world, while 
old Adam sat outside on a stump and smoked his 
pipe in the sun. There are my diggings, over that 
shop ; ' he pointed to a chemist's in the market-place, 
' but I don't spend much time there. My sister-in- 
law is good enough to keep a room always ready for 
me at Outwood, so I generally walk over from here. 

82 



A Study of Remorse 83 

It's a nice place, and the two boys are jolly little chaps. 
You must come over with me. You would like 
George. Shall I see you at Number Two ? ' 

' This afternoon ? Yes.' 

' Then we shall meet again in a few minutes. I 
have just time to get into civilised clothes.' 

Occleston disappeared, and Cassilis turned into the 
Corner. He was grateful for Tony's friendliness. It 
gave another pleasant sensation to the man who had 
lived a life so curiously apart. 

Twenty minutes later Cassilis appeared in Basset's 
drawing-room with radiant eyes, prepared to enjoy 
himself — even expectant of enjoyment. How many 
years had flown since he had felt that expectancy? 
But he was young again. After all, he was only thirty- 
six, and the weight of the remorseful past had rolled 
off him. He was in harmony with the brightness of 
the room, the sweetness of the iris-blossoms, and the 
unexpected sparkle of a little wood fire that flamed and 
crackled as the light breeze blew in through the open 
window. 

' There is exquisite incongruity about a fire on Mid- 
summer Day,' he laughingly remarked as he greeted 
the trio, Thea, Basset, and Tony Occleston. 

' Daddy is a heathen, and that is his Baal-fire,' said 
Thea. ' His ancestors were Druids, and roasted peo- 
ple in wicker baskets. He misses the baskets, but 
comforts himself with the fire.' 

Basset gently put on another log. * I thank you, 
Cassilis, for the expression " exquisite incongruity." 
It exactly gives the idea. Naturally, everyone feels 
exhilarated by a midsummer fire. Human nature is 
instinctively attracted by anything incongruous — in- 



84 Quality Corner 

consistent ; that is, anything inconsistent with the petty 
rules wherewith we fetter ourselves, and the plati- 
tudes wherewith we deaden our perceptions. In 
reality nothing is suitable that is not incongruous, 
nothing consistent that is not inconsistent.' 
' I don't quite see that,' said Tony. 

* Well, to explain fully would be to give the his- 
tory of the human race from the Sixth Day to the 
present. But as regards the fire, the climate of Ring- 
way is soft, cool, and damp; there is perpetual mois- 
ture in the air. Therefore a fire is consistent and 
grateful. Nevertheless, a fire at midsummer is incon- 
sistent.' 

' I think a wood fire is not inconsistent in sum- 
mer,' observed Thea. ' It has a forest scent, and sug- 
gests green woodland. Coal belongs to the " swart 
fairies of the mine," and is, in short, depraved wood. 
Men have sung of the Yule log, but what poet in his 
senses would warble to a lump of coal ? ' 

* I believe I could warble to a lump of coal on a 
frosty night,' said Tony, with his frank boyish laugh. 

' No, Tony, you are not so prosaic as you pre- 
tend,' Thea declared. ' You might pat the coal on 
the head with a poker, but you would not warble 
to it.' 

Cassilis sat contentedly drinking the tea Thea gave 
him, and listening to the conversation as it flowed on. 

' The Rudells spoke of coming in this afternoon,' 
Basset presently announced. ' They are going to 
Woffendale to-night to dine with the Rusholms. 
Parfitt goes too.' 

' Supercilious beast, Parfitt,' remarked Tony cheer- 



A Study of Remorse 85 

fully. ' There was a man in the train to-day with 
a nose just like his. I had a good mind to pull it ! ' 

' Merely because it resembled Parfitt's ? ' inquired 
Basset. ' Rather hard on the stranger ! Is not that 
carrying animosity a trifle far ? ' 

* Perhaps it is,' Tony admitted ; ' but just look at 
Parfitt ! He inspires every feeling but a good one. 
I never see him without wanting to walk softly up 
behind him and suddenly administer a solid kick. 
That's mean, of course ; but there are times when a 
fellow feels a real enjoyment in being deliberately, 
stupendously mean. Besides, I am positive Parfitt is 
mean himself, so why should he be treated with high- 
minded consideration? Sweets to the sweet, say L' 

* Certainly I do not care about Parfitt, neither do 
I admire his paintings,' said Basset. ' He is that ter- 
rible product of our age, a good mechanical work- 
man — labour without thought.' 

A thin veil of smoke floated across the garden, 
and there was a distinct smell of burning. 

' Hullo ! What's that ? ' exclaimed Tony, going out 
on the verandah, followed by the others. 

The smoke came from the next garden, Number 
Three, where Emily Darnton was standing in front of 
a flaming pile of heterogeneous articles heaped 
together on the lawn. As the dividing wall was low, 
those on Basset's verandah had an excellent view of 
the proceedings, while over the farther wall appeared 
the heads belonging to the inmates of Number Four, 
Rudell evidently amused, Parfitt faintly interested, 
Mrs. Rudell indignant. 

* Look at her ! ' she cried across the garden, indi- 



86 Quality Corner 

eating Emily. ' I call it positively crazy ! Why not 
give the things away ? ' 

' Emily,' said Thea, with laughter in her voice, 
* is it possible you are really burning your inherit- 
ance ? ' 

' You see ! ' replied Miss Darnton briefly, and with 
an air of triumph. 

' But why not give them away ? ' reiterated Mrs. 
Rudell. 

' Because,' said Emily, addressing the Corner gen- 
erally, ' I have been worried by them all my life, and 
I am resolved so to dispose of them that I cannot see 
them any more. Till now I have never been able 
to please myself, and I am doing it.' 

' What larks ! ' said Tony. ' Here, I'll help ! ' 

He got on the wall, and, dropping over on the 
other side, seized something that protruded from the 
blazing heap. It proved to be the pole of an old 
screen, and he stirred vigorously. 

' My dear,' interposed Basset mildly, ' do I see a 
volume of Blair's sermons just catching fire?' 

* Yes, Mr. Basset, you do,' Emily replied with stern 
determination. ' I had to read these sermons aloud 
to my aunt on wet Sundays. They are associated in 
my mind with damp. This will dry them.' 

* Spare their lives and give them to the curate,* 
Thea suggested. ' He says he has considerable diffi- 
culty with his sermons. Those would help him.' 

* I might do that,' Emily twitched the singed vol- 
ume out with a stick. 

' No,' she said, regarding the book, ' I know these 
sermons too well. If I heard even one sentence of 



A Study of Remorse 87 

them I should get up and walk out of church,' and 
she pushed Blair back into the flames. ' I have always 
wished to burn them. Sometimes I have even wished 
to burn the man who wrote them.' 

' This is terrible,' said Parfitt. ' Is there no one to 
restrain her ? ' 

Mrs. Rudell leant over the wall to see better. ' I 
think it is quite wicked of you, Emily.' 

' I think so too,' Emily responded. ' That is why 
I am enjoying it so much. I have been as good as 
gold for twenty-five years, therefore it is a great re- 
lief to do something at last that other people think 
wrong. In fact, I know it is wrong. I ought to give 
these things away. But I will not.' 

' What are those other books ? ' asked Cassilis. 

' Modern good books. Dr. Cassilis. I have also read 
them aloud.' 

' What's this stuff that smells like singed flannel ? ' 
demanded Tony, holding up at the end of his pole a 
smouldering mass. 

' Wool mats Tony, and wool rugs to pull over your- 
self when you go to sleep on the sofa. I never go to 
sleep on the sofa.' 

Occleston let the mass fall on the top of the pyre, 
and energetically stirred the whole. 

' Why, here's a clock ! ' said he. 

'The cuckoo-clock!' ejaculated Mrs. Rudell. 
' Emily, it is shameful of you ! Give me that clock 
at once. I shall like to have it.' 

' Not so ! ' Emily administered a rap that sent the 
clock down into the midst of the flames. * I should 
hear it through the wall, and when I came into your 



88 Quality Corner 

house. It used to sing " cuckoo " while I was read- 
ing those sermons on wet Sundays till I could hardly 
refrain from hurling it through the window.' 

Here old Sol Ingers' white head appeared over 
the gate at the end of Basset's garden. 

* Is owt wrong, Basset ? ' he inquired in familiar 
north-country fashion, ' th ' lads want to know if they 
mun bring th' hose an' buckets.' 

' It is all right, Sol, thank you. Miss Darnton is 
only burning a few things in the garden.' 

' Ay, 'tis a good way o' getting shut o' rubbish,' 
responded the old man with evident curiosity ; ' but it 
mout ha' been useful against th' Fifth o' November, 
if yo' could ha' kept it till then. Miss Emily.' 

' Oh, I could not keep a lot of books that are no 
good to anybody,' cried Emily; and Sol returned to 
his cronies with the information gained. 

Emily Darnton's reply had been dictated by motives 
of diplomacy. She did not wish the whole town to 
know the exact constituents of that merrily blazing 
pile. But the effect of her caution was to cover her 
punctilious aunt's memory with wholly undeserved 
obloquy. 

' A-buming of books as is no good, an' a' Quality 
Corner looking on? Eh, who'd ha' thowt it o' th' 
owd lass ! Hoo mun ha' kept 'em i' th' garret an' 
read 'em on th' sly. An' hoo that particular an' 
church-going ! Dost tha mind how hoo gave owd Will 
Clearly five shilhng because hoo heard him say he 
didna know how to swear? Th owd chap nobbut 
meant he'd lossen a' his front teeth, but th' owd lady 
took it he wur pretty nigh a saint. An' to think hoo 



A Study of Remorse 89 

could keep books as wurna fit fur any Christian to 
read ! Eh, I should never ha' thowt it ! ' But Sol 
was tolerant. 

' Let be,' he said, ' yo ' conna tell how it wur. Hap- 
pen they belonged to th' owd lass's grandfather. He 
wur a rare un in his time, I've heard my father say. 
An' if she did read 'em, what o' that? Theer's a 
mort o' curious things in human nature.' 

' I dunnot hold wi' it,' rejoined the first speaker 
reflectively. ' If hoo did read 'em, I dunnot hold 
wi' it.' 

' That may be,' said Sol, ' but theer's a sight o' 
things yo' dunnot hold wi' as has to be reckoned wi'. 
See theer, how th' smoke's rolling up! They're mak- 
ing a rare pother.' 

And all eyes dwelt interestedly on the dark column 
rising skyward from Number Three. 

Presently, however, the column sank. Owing to 
Occleston's vigorous assistance the fire did its work 
swiftly, and before long there remained only glowing 
ashes. 

' Do you feel happier, Miss Darnton ? ' Cassilis in- 
quired when Emily and Tony walked triumphantly 
into Basset's drawing-room after their incendiary 
efiForts. 

* Much happier, thank you. Dr. Cassilis. I assure 
you those books, the cuckoo-clock, and all the other 
things quite depressed me. Every time I saw or heard 
them I was reminded of dismal hours. At last I feel 
free!' 

' Susette will reproach you for ever about that clock,' 
said Thea. 



90 Quality Corner 

' I only hope she will not buy one ! It is always 
people who would not go a step to hear a real cuckoo 
who buy those horrid mechanical noises.' 

' A happy expression, my dear,' observed Basset 
approvingly. ' You are perfectly correct. People do 
buy noises. The vibration of the air caused by mech- 
anism is always a noise, not a sound,' 

* And I do not know why Susette should make 
such a fuss,' Emily went on. ' She is so disagreeable 
that one would suppose she was one's nearest rela- 
tion! By the way, I hope that idea of the air being 
a vast phonograph is not true. It is so uncomfort- 
able. All one's words to be ground out at the Last 
Day. Think of the things one has said of people ! ' 

' They will not be able to beat you,' said Tony con- 
solingly. 

* But imagine their rage ! One's intimate friends, 
too!' 

' Then,' asked Thea, ' why say things you do not 
wish to be ground out at the Last Day ? * 

' Because it is my only chance of saying them. 
If I do not utter them now they will never be uttered.' 

' Well then,' said Basset, ' comfort yourself by the 
reflection that you will suflfer in distinguished com- 
pany. Even Moses spake unadvisedly, and did not 
Arago remark of a brother astronomer that he was 
the biggest scoundrel within the orbit of Neptune? 
There is a conprehensiveness about that observation,' 
pursued Basset meditatively, ' that I find extremely 
soothing.' 

' Yes,' said Cassilis, ' the mind is calmed by the 
vastness of the sweep round our solar system.' 

Emily jumped up. ' I must go, or I shall never 



A Study of Remorse 91 

be ready for the Galloways' dinner. Of course it will 
be over by ten o'clock, their dinners always are. So 
I shall be home by half-past, feeling very dull with 
nobody to talk to. May I come in here, Mr. Basset ? ' 

' My dear, I am surprised that you should think 
it necessary to ask. Number Two is open house to 
all the Corner at all times. We shall expect both 
you and Cassilis. Where are you going to spend the 
evening, Anthony? Dine with us.' 

' Thank you, Mr. Basset, I wish I could. But I 
told George I'd be there to-night.' 

* Give my love to Mary and the boys,' said Thea. 

' I will not forget,' replied Occleston, as he and 
Emily prepared to go. 

Cassilis rose too. ' Then as I am permitted to 
return later, I need not say good-bye.' He spoke to 
Thea. ' Truly Ringway must be Elf -land if one never 
says good-bye ! ' 



CHAPTER X 

A FORTNIGHT of green sparkling days had 
passed over Ringway — days that filled the air 
with scent of grassy meadows ripening for the scythe ; 
a scent that is the breath of the summer fields, a 
honeyed mingling of clover and meadowsweet and 
many hidden flowers, and the fainter perfume of the 
tufted feathery grasses. 

One sunny morning Mrs. Stretton announced her 
intention of going over to the Moss Farm for the 
purpose of inspecting June Heald. 

' Well, tha'll find her in th' house,' responded 
farmer Stretton, watching his cows filing out of the 
shippon into the near meadow. ' Gresty tells me 
hoo's a rare home-keeper. I'll drive thee o'er if tha 
likes. I wur thinking o' taking a look at th' cow 
Gresty wur talking o' sending to th' Show. I mout 
send yon red un. I'll warrant he's none better than 
that. Hoo's a real good un, an' as sensible as a 
mon.' 

' That isna saying much fur th' beast,' observed 
his wife drily. 

Stretton opened his mouth to reply, but shut it 
again without speaking. He was a married man of 
many years' standing, and the wisdom of silence had 
impressed itself on him. 

'As fur Mrs. Heald,' continued Mrs. Stretton, 'I 
92 



A Study of Remorse 93 

dunnot want to hear what Gresty says about th' 
woman. I've given her toime to settle down an' redd 
up th' place, an' now I'm going to see fur mysen. 
Little Joe's my godson an' I con take him a cake. 
If tha'rt going o'er theer, it'll save me th' walk.' 

* A' reet,' replied Stretton, ' I've nowt to do betwixt 
three an' five. We'll start at three.' 

So that afternoon farmer Stretton's old white 
mare trotted along the deep lanes and past the little 
wood to the Moss Farm. The quiet homestead 
seemed basking in the hush of the summer afternoon. 
Pigeons cooed on the roof, white ducks swam lazily 
round the pond that reflected the shining blue above, 
and in the roomy porch old Martha sat sewing, while 
the two youngest children played beside her. 

Mrs. Stretton, sitting bolt upright, a basket on her 
arm containing little Joe's cake, surveyed the scene 
with approval. 

* It looks reet enow,' she observed to her husband 
as they drove up. ' If I'd ha' found Mrs. Heald 
sitting in the porch while owd Martha wur busy i' 
th' house, I shouldna ha' thowt much on her.' 

* Theer's th' owd lass running indoors to tell her 
we're coming,' said Stretton, ' I'll go an' look up 
Gresty, an' leave yo' an' her to talk awhile.' 

June Heald came out into the sunshine to meet 
her visitors. If Gresty had fitly compared his late 
wife to a pansy, then June might be said to suggest 
lavender. There was about her an atmosphere of 
serene homeliness and quiet comfort, just as lavender 
calls up the idea of simple country freshness and 
peace. 

'Ay, I knew hoo'd be good-looking,' Mrs. Stretton 



94 Quality Corner 

muttered triumphantly, as she noted June's blue eyes 
and pink cheeks and smooth bands of brown hair. 

' How d'ye do, Mrs. Heald ? ' said Stretton, getting 
down. ' My wife thowt hoo'd loike to see little Joe, 
being her godson, an' I'd a word to say to Gresty, so 
here we are.' 

' I'm sure I'm very pleased to see yo'. I'm greatly 
indebted to your husband fur his kindness in bringing 
me here, Mrs. Stretton.' 

' Well, it wur about toime some sensible body wur 
looking after th' children,' replied Mrs. Stretton in 
friendly tones, gratified by being thus deferentially 
addressed. ' Not but what Martha did her best, poor 
owd lass. Now, Joe,' as a small boy ran up and 
clutched her ample skirts, ' I've browt thee a cake, 
but Mrs. Heald '11 give it thee by-and-by.' 

' Yo'U come into th' parlour and ha' a cup of tea ? ' 
said June. ' Th' kettle's boiling.' 

Farmer Stretton, having ascertained that Gresty 
was at work in the upland field, betook himself 
thither, and his wife followed June through the 
kitchen, across the hall, and into the parlour. Here 
Mrs. Stretton seated herself on a sofa, untied her 
bonnet-strings, and looked round with keen eyes. 
The furniture had been newly polished, but nothing 
had been moved from the place it had occupied 
during the late Mrs. Gresty's lifetime. Even the bits 
of old china, heirlooms in the Gresty family, stood 
each on its own wool mat on the sideboard at equal 
distances as heretofore. This, Mrs. Stretton con- 
sidered, showed proper feeling on June's part. It 
was not for her, being yet a stranger, to make any 
changes in the home. If she married Gresty, then 



A Study of Remorse 95 

indeed she might do as she pleased. Till then she 
was only in the house on sufferance as it were. 
Therefore this evidence of June's meekness inclined 
Mrs. Stretton to look favourably upon the stranger, 
so that when June appeared with the tea-tray it was 
with real cordiality that her visitor exclaimed : 

' Now, Mrs. Heald, you'd no call to get out th' best 
china fur me ! ' 

' I'm sure Mr. Gresty would wish it, Mrs. Stretton. 
A friend o' th' family like yoursen.' 

' Well, they're pretty cups. I wur always fond o' 
lilac colour, an' th' gold rims set it off. They be- 
longed to owd Mrs. Gresty, Gresty's mother. Hoo 
browt a sight o' good china here when hoo wur 
wed.' 

' 'Tis pleasant to ha' things o' one's own to leave 
behind yo',' and there was a thrill of regret in June's 
voice. 

Mrs. Stretton glanced sharply at her, but with 
sympathy. 

' Ay, I reckon yo' happened on a husband as got 
rid o' everything. It's a real comfort to think he got 
rid o' hissen at last, fur it's nowt but waste o' time 
to wed a chap o' that sort. Yo're well shut on him. 
Yo'll be comfortable enow here, an' Gresty's easy- 
going in th' house.' 

' I have not been so comfortable sin' I wur a lass 
at home,' replied June earnestly. ' I wur brought up 
at a farm, so it a' seems like th' owd times come 
back. 'Tis a real treat to me to take to the baking 
again after years o' baker's bread. Do yo' find th' 
bread good, Mrs. Stretton? I'm not sure that I've 
got my hand in yet.' 



g6 Quality Corner 

* Th' bread couldna be better, Mrs. Heald. I wur 
just thinking to say so.' 

And thus the two women arrived at an excellent 
understanding. Away in the upland field Stretton 
was listening to the recital of June's many virtues. 

* Ay,' finished Gresty, ' tha did me a good turn 
when tha picked her up. Me an' th' little uns are as 
happy as bees i' clover, an' as fur owd Martha, hoo's 
living loike a lady sin' Mrs. Heald coom.' 

'Well,' said Stretton, 'why doan't thee marry her? 
Tha couldna do better. A good-looking woman as 
con manage th' house an' th' children comfortable. 
What more dost tha want ? ' 

' Nowt,' said Gresty emphatically. 

* Then if I wur thee, I'd ask her reet off an' put up 
th' banns next Sunday. Mrs. Heald seems to ha' 
settled down i' th' place. Hoo'll noan be like to keep 
thee waiting. A widow-woman isna skittish like a 
lass, Tha could be wed in less'n a month, an' then it 
'ud be off thy moind afore th' oats want cutting.' 

' Theer's summat i' that,' responded Gresty. ' It's 
a bit moithering fur a chap to be thinking o' getting 
wed, even if it isna first toime.' 

* Ay, it is. Sometimes I've thowt happen winter's 
th' best season fur marrying; nigh on Christmas.' 

Gresty shook his head. ' Nay, nay — summer's th' 
toime fur sweethearting, when th' sun's a-shining, an' 
th' birds a-singing an' warm evenings fur to stroll in.' 

* True, true. I loike a bit o' romance mysen. Eh, 
it seems nobbut yesterday sin' I wur a slim young 
chap sitting whistling on a stile wi' my billycock a' 
on one soide an' a sprig o' honeysuckle i' th' band, 
an' white gloves for Sundays. Ay, them gloves! I 



A Study of Remorse 97 

mind 'em well. My mother wouldna wash 'em ; hoo 
said hoo'd enow to do wi'out moithering- o'er a lad's 
finery. So one day I made shift to wash 'em mysen, 
an' a muddling job I wur making on't, when up coom 
that strapping lass o' Will Fitton's, her that married 
th' sergeant an' went to India. Well, hoo laughed 
fit to kill hersen when hoo caught sight o' me all o'er 
soapsuds, an' I wur as red as a pseony wi' her looking 
an' laughing. However, hoo offered to wash 'em fur 
me, an' thankful I wur. Hoo gave 'em to me on 
th' Saturday, a' ironed an' white as a daisy. I give 
her a kiss fur doing 'em, an' hoo fetched me a slap 
on th' cheek as fair echoed! I con feel that theer 
slap this minute. Eh,' with a prodigious sigh, * young 
days is good days, Gresty. Theer isna a lass i' th' 
country as 'ud think it worth while to slap my face 
now.' 

' O' course middle-age is middle-age,' responded 
Gresty, ' but theer's summat to be said fur it too. I 
loike to see th' children running about an' playing 
an' growing bigger, an' th' owd place same as ever it 
wur, only snugger an' a' that.' 

* So do I, so do I. But it isna th' same thing. 
When a man's young he thinks he con kick th' world 
about as he loikes, an' when he's owd he finds it kicks 
him. That's about th' size on't. A' th' same, Gresty, 
I'd advise thee to wed Mrs. Heald.' 

' I'll do it.' 

The same idea dominated Mrs. Stretton's mind as 
she and her husband drove home in the mellow evening 
sunshine. 

' Gresty couldna do better than marry Mrs. Heald, 
as fur as I con see,' she observed, as the old white 



98 Quality Corner 

mare climbed the hill and the Moss Farm sank out 
of sight in the green valley. * Hoo isna loike a flighty 
lass. Hoo looks after th' children well, as I con see 
mysen, an' hoo knows farm ways. Seems to me hoo 
wur regular cut out for Gresty.' 

' That's what I've been telling him,' said Stretton, 
' an' he's about made up his mind. That'll be a good 
match o' my making ! ' with pride. 

' Trust thee men fur ha'ing a good opinion o' 
theesen. What about th' cow ? ' 

'What cow?' 

' Th' cow Gresty's going to send to th' Show. 
Tha said tha wur going to look at it.' 

' Eh, I never gave a thowt to it/ said Stretton 
rather shamefacedly. 

' Thee two men wur that busy talking o' Mrs. 
Heald tha never thowt o' th' cow ? Well, I never ! ' 
with scorn. 

Stretton prudently abstained from attempting to 
justify his forgetfulness. 



CHAPTER XI 

THE following morning an accident happened at 
the Moss Farm. Little Joe tumbled off a wag- 
gon and broke his arm, and June's distress was great. 

' Dunno fret thysen, Mrs. Heald/ said Gresty in- 
specting his offspring, ' I'll go up to th' town an' 
send th' new doctor. He looks loike a gentleman, an' 
owd Sol Ingers speaks well on him. Eh, Joe, how 
oft have I towd thee to leave climbing on th' waggons. 
Now tha sees what it ends in ! ' 

Joe whimpered. * Will th' doctor cut it off ? ' 

* Thy arm ? Well, reckon he willna this toime, but 
th' next toime tha does it, th' arm'U come off sure 
enow. Seeing as it's market day, Mrs. Heald, I 
dunnot think as I'll coom back wi' th' doctor. If he 
isna here presently, happen tha'll send one o' th' men 
to hurry him a bit.' 

But Cassilis did not need hurrying. He was at 
breakfast when Gresty arrived, and refusing the far- 
mer's offer of ' th' cart,' walked to the Moss Farm 
through the green dewiness of the morning. He was 
faintly curious to see the woman who had drifted 
hither, — Gresty had not mentioned her name — who 
had once lived in Bramsall, that murky city on which 
Cassilis looked back as Dante looked back on the 
hell he had traversed. And Cassilis had the greater 
reason for his horror. The hell of Dante was but the 

99 



loo Quality Corner 

shadow of reality, whereas the hell of that earthly 
city was the reality itself. Yet as he walked up the 
hill where he had walked that night beneath the 
Scorpion's Heart with Thea, and down into the green 
scented valley where the Moss Farm lay like a pipit's 
nest in a meadow, as he so walked he felt no lessening 
of that strange exhilaration with which Ringway had 
filled his veins. He did not suppose the stranger was 
anyone whom he had known in Bramsall. Nay, he 
did not think, he did not care. We are told that 
Damocles did not enjoy his supper after he had seen 
the sword. Why not? Did the glitter overhead make 
the wine less cool, the honey less sweet? But 
Damocles was Greek. To grimmer blood that im- 
pending death would but have added a keener zest to 
the banquet. Did ever Englishman eat less for a 
bullet or two singing through his tent? There is 
much in the story of Achilles' heel. It was there that 
he was vulnerable; that is, a Greek might run away; 
the thing was possible. But in the old Saga, the 
Viking Sigurd was vulnerable only between his 
shoulders ; which suggests one's back to a wall and 
a semi-circle of dead. 

Cassilis did not care. He did not say so to him- 
self, he did not seek to analyse his feelings. He was 
in a dream, his dream of rest. Nay, it was no dream. 
He was awake and resting and happy. 

So he turned the corner of the little wood where 
the blackbird was singing and came face to face with 
June Heald. She was standing by the farm gate, 
shading her eyes from the sun as she watched for the 
coming of the doctor, whose name she had not heard. 
Cassilis was not surprised, he seemed to have known 



A Study of Remorse lOi 

it all along in some vague way. His first thought 
was that of course the woman from Bramsall could 
be none other than Jane Stanham ; his second, being 
naturally a gentle compassionate man, was that he 
was glad to see her looking so much better and 
happier. For he recollected her as a miserable girl 
married to a brutal idle collier, and earning both his 
living and her own by letting lodgings in a back street 
where a blast-furnace roared night and day, filling 
the air with noise and flame. That was ten years 
ago, and here was the frightened over-worked girl, 
CassiHs's former landlady, grown into a placid fair- 
faced woman, here in the cool green country all fresh- 
ness and peace. 

' Why, Mrs. Stanham ! ' said Cassilis, ' is it really 
you? I am very glad to see you so comfortably placed.' 

' Yes indeed, sir, an' I couldna believe th' sight o' 
my own eyes when I saw you coming along by th' 
wood just now. To think as it should be you ! ' 

' It is curious,' he assented. 

' An' I call myself Mrs. Heald here, please sir. 
Heald was my maiden name, an' I never had any luck 
when I wur Stanham.' 

' Quite right, Mrs. Heald. I'll not forget. Where is 
the boy? — my patient, I mean. ' 

Little Joe was disposed to howl at the sight of the 
dreaded doctor, but became reassured, and submittted 
to treatment with greater equanimity than was ex- 
pected. Perhaps his self control was assisted by the 
half envious faces of his five brothers and sister who 
stood in a group at the end of the room, gazing sol- 
emnly at the doctor's movements, and feeling, one and 
all, that fate had made Joe much too important. 



I02 Quality Corner 

' I will look in to-morrow.' said Cassilis, as he rose to 
go. ' This is a pretty place, Mrs. Heald.' 

' It is, sir,' June was walking with him to the gate. 
' I wur telling Mrs. Stretton yesterday that I wur glad 
to be at a farm again, being browt up at one when I 
wur a girl, as I think you have heard me say, sir.' 

' Yes. I remember,' 

They had reached the gate now. June stood by 
it, a slight hesitation visible in her manner. 

' If you willna mind, sir,' she said, ' I'll not tell th' 
folks about my letting lodgings an' my husband being 
always drunk an' raging an' a' that. Not as I'm 
ungrateful fur a' you an' poor Mr. Thorold did fur me. 
If you two gentlemen hadna been lodging wi' me then, 
I conna tell whatever I should ha' done. But I've left 
th' place behind me, an' I'd like to leave a' that behind 
me too, an' not be answering folk's questions about it. 
An' besides my own troubles, sir, poor Mr. Thorold's 
poisoning himself accidental was what might seem 
awkward like, an' I dunnot care fur to be talking it 
o'er wi' folks here, which I shall ha' to do if I begin 
speaking o' my lodgers. Fur if I talk o' one, say 
you, sir, why I'm bound to mention th' other, Mr. 
Thorold an' it a' seems such a muddle, sir. An' I 
had to appear at th' inquest, an' altogether, sir, I conna 
see the need fur saying owt.' 

* I will say nothing, Mrs. Heald. But how was 
it that you did not send for me at the inquest? I 
have always blamed myself for going away that 
night.' 

' It wur I that persuaded you, sir. Seeing that 
th' poor gentleman was gone an' yo' couldna do any 



A Study of Remorse 103 

good, it seemed a pity you should stay for naught an' 
lose th' appointment you were seeking. Yo' gave me 
an address, sir, if yo' recollect. I could ha' sent fur 
yo', but I didna see th' use.' 

' I lost the appointment after all,' said Cassilis. 
' I reached Irthdale all right, but I fell ill that night 
with fever, and was laid up for six weeks. As soon 
as I was better I went back to Bramsall, as I could 
not understand not having heard from you; but I 
found your house empty and closed, and your neigh- 
bours did not know where you had gone.' 

' I'm sure it wur main good of yo' to come back, 
sir. Things wur this way. My husband never came 
home that night, an' next day I found he wur i' 
custody for nigh killing a man. Then theer wur th' 
inquest on poor Mr. Thorold. The coroner didna 
ask me many questions. I reckon he saw I wur pretty 
Vt^ell worrited to death, fur he knew about my hus- 
band being locked up. I said my other lodger — 3'ou, 
sir — wur gone, an' I suppose th' coroner thought you 
had gone before it happened. It didna seem worth 
while fur to say you was there, and' to fetch you 
back fur just nothing; fur what good could yo' ha' 
done, sir ? ' 

' I was glad not to appear at the inquiry.' 

As he spoke, Cassilis looked away up the green 
valley, understanding now what he had previously 
suspected — that this woman's kindly hand had drawn 
a veil of silence between him and that fatal night. 
He and his dead friend had been good to her and 
she was grateful, and had kept silence lest the ap- 
pointment for which he had hoped should be lost 



I04 Quality Corner 

by her speaking, and so causing his immediate re- 
turn. 

It had been lost, and Cassilis had not regretted its 
loss. He had been thankful for the illness that had 
given him brief oblivion. Then, barely recovered, he 
had hastened back to that city of death, only to be 
confronted by an empty house. From that point began 
his wanderings. 

' Yo' wur best away, sir. Yo' could ha' done 
nothing,' went on June's quiet voice. ' Theer wur 
naught to be done. Two lawyer gentlemen came fro' 
Mr. Thorold's friends. I heard the name o' one o' 
them; it wur Rudell.' 

' Rudell ! ' repeated Cassilis, startled ; ' a Mr. Rudell 
lives close to me at Number Four, Quality Corner. 
He is a lawyer.' 

'Indeed sir? But if he's th' same he'll scarce 
know me, I'm that different now. He wur talking 
to th' other gentleman, saying he'd only just heard o' 
th' death. It wur th' other gentleman that took Mr. 
Thorold away.' 

'Away?' 

' To be buried, sir. Nigh his own folk. Some- 
where in Lincolnshire, I wur told.' 

' Ah yes, of course.' 

' An' then, sir, when it wur a' o'er an' poor Mr. 
Thorold gone an' a', theer wur my husband committed 
fur trial. He'd been locked up a' the time since that 
night, as I told you. Well, I didna care to take any 
more lodgers. I thowt happen I shouldna like 'em 
after yo' an' Mr. Thorold, so I sold th' furniture an' 
went to lodge wi' a woman at th' other side o' th' 
town. That wur how yo' found th' house empty, sir, 



A Study of Remorse 105 

when yo' came back, fur I left it in less'n a month 
fro' that night an' I didna tell th' neighbours where 
I wur going.' 

' I see.' 

' Th' woman I lodged wi'/ June resumed, ' took 
in sewing, an' I helped. My husband got three years, 
an' when he came out o' jail I wur silly enow to let 
him ha' th' furniture money, an' he off to America 
wi' it. An' I wur glad on't,' said June frankly. ' I 
wur fair wore out wi' him. I reckon he's theer now, 
fur I've heerd naught of him since. I stayed wi' th' 
sewing woman till she died an' then I couldna think 
where to go, when a' on a sudden it came to me that 
I were free to please mysen an' go back into th' 
country, like as if I wur a girl again. So I called 
mysen Heald, my old name, sir, an' here I am.' 

* And here I hope you will stay, Mrs. Heald. I 
only came to Ringway a fortnight ago, but it seems 
to me a peaceful, happy place.' 

' It does, sir. I am sure I wish you good luck in it. 
An' are you married, sir? ' 

' I ! — oh no.' The question was a natural one, but 
marriage had been so little in Cassilis's thoughts during 
the past ten years that he felt quite surprised. ' Oh, 
no. I have wandered about from place to place a 
good deal since I last saw you, and have never been 
rich enough to marry. In fact, I have never stayed 
anywhere for any length of time. Perhaps I may 
settle here. I hope so. I like the town.' 

' I'm sure I hope so too, sir. Wandering seems 
weary work. Maybe it's different for a gentleman.' 

' No, it is not, Mrs. Heald,' said Cassilis, ' I too have 
found it weary.' And though he smiled as he spoke, 



io6 Quality Corner 

there was a pathetic ring in his voice that contradicted 
the smile. 

A brief silence followed ; that is, a silence of human 
speech. In the heart of a cherry-tree a blackbird was 
singing, each note falling into the green stillness like 
a diamond; and Cassilis, listening unconsciously, 
thinking of all he had just heard, yet felt no clouding 
of his spirit's sunshine ; but rather a greater content- 
ment, a curious completeness — as though life were 
over and the rest and forgiveness of Paradise begun. 

For ten years he had not heard his dead friend's 
name uttered. Here, where he had thought to find 
Lethe, the past had risen suddenly — unexpectedly. 
Ringway had promised forget fulness, and in seeming 
elfin mockery had broken that promise Yet the 
broken promise failed to disturb the strange serenity 
of Cassilis's mind. How could he have hoped for — 
dreamt of forgetfulness when no such thing exists? 
But one might be happy even though Lethe is a 
myth. How beautiful the world was ! The shining 
valley, the wood-crowned hill, the hidden blackbird 
dropping those diamond notes among the cherry 
leaves. 

' I think,' he said, turning to June Heald with a 
smile, ' this must be the end of my wanderings. I do 
not know when I have felt so content.' 

The words struck ominously on June's ears. She 
believed that when any man spoke thus, misfortune 
was nigh. 

' I will come to-morrow morning,' he went on. 
' If the boy does not seem well, send for me this 
evening.' 

' Thank you, sir.' 



A Study of Remorse 107 

Cassilis nodded and walked away. As he climbed 
the hill a cloud sailing overhead suddenly darkened 
to indigo and a summer shower came on, a shower so 
heavy that he turned into the woods for shelter from 
the downpour. 



CHAPTER XII 

RINGWAY WOODS were a lingering fragment 
of the dense forest that once stretched across 
the country; the green home of red squirrel, wild cat 
and grey wolf ; the home too of innumerable birds and 
happy living things. 

But with the clearing of the forest, grey wolf and 
wild cat have vanished long ago. The red squirrels 
and the brown owls are following them. Fewer 
ringdoves coo in the fir-tops, fewer woodpeckers tap 
the gnarled trunks of the old trees. And thus the 
air, less purified by the living green, becomes yearly 
less invigorating, less healthful, less fit for human 
breathing. 

This Ringway fragment of the old forest was 
beautiful indeed; from its soil of sandy peat, so soft 
and elastic to the tired foot, to the leafy crowns of its 
forest giants of beech and chestnut, elm and yew. 

As Cassilis passed under their sheltering arms the 
swift patter of the rain on the open path changed to 
a sibilant murmur overhead — Keats 's ' whispering roof 
of leaves.' 

He paused for a moment beside the smooth bole 
of a beech, then saw before him an immense chestnut, 
with buttressed trunk and spreading fans that gently 
waved like beckoning green fingers. And in its shade 
stood Thea. 

io8 , 



A Study of Remorse 109 

' May I share your shelter ? ' he asked, crossing 
the intervening space. ' This troll-weather of yours 
is so erratic that one never knows whether it is a 
morning in Eden or the eve of the Flood.' 

' Or a passing freak of this workaday world,' sug- 
gested Thea. 

' There is no workaday world in Ringway,' Cassilis 
replied gravely. * Did you tell me that, or have I dis- 
covered it for myself ? ' 

' What matters, since you know it ? ' 

As when they had met by the church in the early 
morning on the second day of his coming, so now 
Cassilis again noticed that Thea asked no questions 
as to where he had been, from whence he had come. 
Perhaps this indifference as to daily doings, joined 
with her peculiar insight as regarded thought and 
feeling, constituted a great part of the charm of Thea's 
society. For how restful is a comrade who never asks 
questions, who has no curiosity as to your doings ; who 
gives the soothing airy companionship of the butterfly 
that accompanies you down the lane, now fluttering 
low over bank, now flying ahead, now lingering on the 
honeysuckle in the hedge, yet always keeping in its 
beautiful effortless flight within easy friendly distance 
of its human comrade. 

Perhaps a lonely man like Cassilis, unused to having 
his movements commented on, felt this charm of non- 
interrogation more than one less solitary might have 
done. The quality had a curious effect on people. It 
either strongly attracted or strongly repelled. Parfitt, 
for instance, was distinctly offended by it. He was 
accustom.ed to women crowding round him, asking 
him a thousand questions; accustomed to have his 



no Quality Corner 

goings and comings chronicled in the society papers. 
Naturally his vanity was ruffled when he was not 
interrogated as to his hours of work, the particular 
train he travelled by, the books, places, and persons 
he liked best. 

But Cassilis, unknown and a wanderer, had the 
wanderer's instinct of friendliness devoid of curiosity, 
and he responded to like friendhness as the swallow 
responds to the spring. 

They were standing close to the rugged chestnut 
trunk. Beyond the wide circumference of the 
branches the rain now fell in a thick veil of white 
water, through which the woodland shimmered in 
blurred outlines, as though frozen glass. Here and 
there through the leafy roof overhead a heavy water- 
drop fell like a fairy bullet, making the fine sand fly 
where it struck. 

Cassilis glanced up, and Thea's eyes followed his 
glance. 

' It is nothing,' she said, ' only a few drops. Rain 
never comes through more than that. This is my 
favourite tree.' 

' Surely it must be the Tree of Knowledge, for I 
see a book in that hole just above your head. A 
modern novel, too. Truly a wonderful tree ! ' 

Thea laughed. 

'One likes a change of society at times,' she said. 
' The chief use of books seems to me to be that of 
supplying one with an endless series of fascinating 
companions.' 

' Quite so. But ' 

' But that book is modern, and I said I seldom 
read anything modem. True, I am not consistent. 



A Study of Remorse 1 1 1 

Is consistency expected in Domremy? This is the 
forest of Domremy.' 

' I am sure it is. I was only about to ask if you 
kept all your library in this same Domremy; is every 
tree trunk a book-case ? ' 

' In a sense — yes. Though I only put the book 
there to keep it from the rain.' 

' A most elfin refuge. I wonder you did not step 
inside yourself.' 

' The woodpeckers might not like that,' she replied 
gravely. ' They nest there every spring. In the win- 
ter, dormice sleep in the empty nest. Even now some 
small creature may have taken the furnished hole for 
awhile. It is deeper than it looks ; the book is resting 
on a ledge halfway.' 

Cassilis looked, not at the much-tenanted hollow, 
but at his companion. Hers was that beauty which 
is always beautiful, and it seemed heightened by the 
unreal effect produced by the sudden storm. The 
straight white rain still surrounded them as with 
walls of glass, and through it the light from the 
slowly-brightening sky struck upward under the deep 
green of the chestnut as the light strikes up into a 
deep-sea cave. In this strange pale radiance Thea's 
brilliant eyes were as wells that gathered up the 
light; the smooth almond of her skin seemed illu- 
mined ; the brown waves of her hair took shifting 
shadows ; the sinuous lines of her figure half melted 
into the gloom of the massive trunk against which she 
stood, as her voice blended with the sound of the fall- 
ing rain on leaves and grass. 

As has been said, the unexpected meeting with June 
Heald that morning had in no wise disturbed the sin- 



112 Quality Corner 

gular elation that had lately swept over Cassilis. True, 
the aroused memories had stirred the very depths of 
his soul, but the result was an added exaltation, a sen- 
sation of being on the point of reaching some long- 
desired goal — the feeling of the runner the instant be- 
fore the start. And combined with these, an equally 
singular calm, a loss of fever and fret, a renewal of 
happy irresponsible youth. All this, and the swift 
storm, the strange light, Thea's presence: in short, 
Cassilis was ' fey.' 

' Tell me some more,' he said. ' Read me the runes 
on the leaves since you acknowledge the woods are 
your library. Surely you are the Fairy Melusina and 
la" prisoner pent in walls of glass." ' 

' These walls of glass will vanish as rapidly as those 
of Jericho in less than ten minutes,' she replied with a 
sudden smile like summer lightning. ' As for my 
woodland library, it is simply association. Have you 
never given "to airy nothings a local habitation"? 
For instance, that tall fir you see through the rain is 
Ariel's cloven pine; near it is the mossy stump on 
which Coleridge's Hermit oflfered up his orisons. Out 
of that thicket to the left Comus comes with his rabble 
of monsters. Bayard and the Red Cross Knight ride 
along that glade on the right, followed by all our dead 
heroes. Under that yew Savonarola sits meditating, 
while Fra Angelico stands by him watching a butterfly, 
whose wings he thinks will do for the Angel Gabriel.' 

' But how ? — why ? ' began Cassilis. 

' Oh, quite simply. When I was a child I was very 
lucky in never possessing any of those Dead Sea Ap- 
ples called children's books. I cannot remember when 
I learnt to read. I seem always to have been able to 



A Study of Remorse 113 

read. Also, I never had a spelling book. When I 
saw one. It seemed to me foolish, for if you can read, 
^ou see the words, and can consequently spell them. 
Perhaps I was a born speller.' 

' Some are born spellers, some achieve spelling, and 
some have spelling thrust upon them,' remarked her 
companion. 

* Precisely. Well, Comus is the first book I remem- 
ber reading. That I did not understand half the words 
was of no consequence. I made out the story. The 
poem attracted me by the pictures in it, the mental pic- 
tures, I mean. I could perfectly comprehend and im- 
agine the violet-embroidered vale, the wood, the shep- 
herd's hut, the palace of Comus, and the stream under 
which Sabrina sat knitting lilies into her hair. By the 
way, I will show you that stream some day.' 

' Do,' said Cassilis. ' I should like to see it. Please 
go on.' 

* The next things I remember are Manfred, Tam o' 
Shanter, and a translation of the Agamemnon. A 
most curious mixture, but I absorbed everything as a 
matter of course. I revelled in them all. I called 
up the Spirit of the Alps with Manfred, rode head- 
long from the witches with the immortal Tam, and 
hailed the beacon fires with the watchman at Mycenae. 
Later, when I was ten, I saved up my pocket-money 
and bought a second-hand copy of Sale's Koran. It 
rather disappointed me. I thought it distinctly in- 
ferior to the Arabian Nights.' 

' So it is. What is Mahomet's camel beside Prince 
Hoosein's carpet? And the Prophet's adventures are 
trivial compared to those of the Third Calender.' 

' I see you understand. Now what are two of the 



114 Quality Corner 

most beautiful sights in the world? Frost on the 
briar on a sunny autumn morning, and sunshine on 
falling rain. The last you are just going to see — 
look ! ' 

The rain was ceasing, falling not now like thick 
spun glass, but in a thin veil of sparkling waterdrops, 
The storm-clouds were passing. Away to the south 
shone a widening rift of blue and a dazzle of sunlight, 
changing the woodland beneath it to vivid emerald. 
On swept the spreading brightness, chasing the clouds, 
till it burst on the chestnut, and all the world was 
wrapped in diamond light, as though a rainbow had 
broken and fallen in innumerable scintillating sparks. 

The rain was over, but not gone. It dripped in 
glittering rivulets from every leaf and spray. Rain- 
drops ran along the bracken fronds and hung in 
trembling points of vari-coloured light from the 
bending tips. Every tiny blade of grass had its jewel, 
and every jewel its changing brilliance. Now sap- 
phire, as it reflected only the blue overhead; now 
emerald, taking its hue from its resting place; now 
purest diamond, now orient ruby red. 

' This is the heart of a rainbow,' said Thea. ' Come 
out into the path and try whether you can walk to that 
tree blindfolded. Everyone tries. It is the duty of 
every dweller in Ringway.' 

They passed out of the shade of the chestnut into the 
glittering sunlit open. Before them the short fine 
sward sloped downwards to where, at the bottom of 
the grassy hollow, stood a solitary ash, the tree in ques- 
tion. Beyond it the ground rose again to a height 
parallel to where they were standing, and crowned 
with dense woodland. 



A Study of Remorse 1 1 5 

' Perhaps I may fall into a rabbit-hole ; they look 
very large just about here,' Cassilis remarked as a 
handkerchief was being bound round his eyes. 

' I will fetch somebody to dig you out. There ! 
Now you are ready.' 

Going down the slope, Cassilis wondered whether 
any patient might arrive unexpectedly on the scene, 
and behold his grave doctor wandering about in Blind- 
man's Buff fashion. But Cassilis said to himself that 
he * didn't care ' and he didn't. He seemed to have 
reached the bottom of the grassy hollow, yet he felt 
no tree. He turned to the right; in vain. Then 
walked determinedly to the left, and heard Thea's soft 
laugh beside him. 

* Oh, you are far away from the ash,' she said. 
* Just as far as anybody else ! ' 

He pulled off the handkerchief and looked round. 
The tree stood some distance to the right. He had 
walked into a grove of beeches, where the sunshine 
dappled the brown withered beech-mast underfoot. 

' Listen ! ' said Thea. 

A steady tapping sounded through the rustling of 
the leaves. 

' A woodpecker,' said Cassilis, looking up the smooth 
beech-boles for the bird. 

' Not so. This is the castle of the Thane of Glamis 
and Cawdor, and you hear the knocking at the gate : 
" Wake Duncan with thy knocking ? I would thou 
couldst ! " ' 

This time the elf-arrow — sped so unconsciously — 
struck deep. The shaft was feathered by the memories 
that June Heald's words had aroused. Also Cassilis 
was again startled by that odd elusive resemblance of 



ii6 Quality Corner 

Thea to someone whom he had once known. The turn 
of the head, the way in which she uttered the words; 
whom did she resemble? 

* Ah yes,' he said, and looking up into the beeches, 
he repeated the quotation, ' Wake Duncan with thy 
knocking ? I would thou couldst ! ' 

His listener regarded him thoughtfully. She was 
struck by the peculiar intensity with which he spoke. 

* You say it well/ she observed. ' The association 
was created for me by my father — my real father, I 
mean. Once I came here with him, and he talked of 
that scene while a woodpecker was tapping, just as 
now. So I never hear a woodpecker without thinking 
of evil-hearted Glamis. But let us forget the Thane. 
Come out of the castle. I am going to make a ball of 
bracken. Did you ever see one ? ' 

She ran out from under the beeches into a grassy 
space and gathered a handful of fern. Cassilis fol- 
lowed, but paused at the edge of the grove where the 
brown mast met the turf. 

' Do you think,' he asked, * that the treachery of the 
Thane could ever be pardoned — by Duncan ? ' 

' By Duncan ? ' echoed Thea, looking across the sun- 
lit space to where he stood in the shadow. ' Ah, that 
is a question one cannot answer. There is the treach- 
ery, you see.' 

* Yes, there is the treachery.' He came out into the 
sunlight. ' Where are we now ? We have left the 
Thane's castle.' 

' This is Arcadia, and we are going to play at ball. 
Catch!' 

He caught the little green globe that was thrown 
to him, and turned it over and over. 



A Study of Remorse 117 

* This is most deftly woven. One would imagine a 
bird had made it. How is it done ? ' 

' The ball has not been made to gratify curiosity, 
but for use,' replied Thea gravely. ' Throw it back.' 

He did so, and again it was flung to him through 
the sunshiny air. 

The beech-grove was left behind. A wide sandy 
path led away through the wet bright woods, and 
along this Thea and Cassilis passed as merrily as the 
chaffinches that twittered overhead. What if his fairy 
gold seemed changing to withered leaves, his fairy 
wine beginning to burn, his fairy music sounding like 
a knell? He was still in the rainbow's heart, and his 
own beat gaily; perhaps all the more gaily for the 
memories within it, and the weary past. The blacker 
the cloud, the lovelier the bow. 

So he followed Thea along the sun-dappled glades, 
and the ball of bracken flew lightly from hand to hand. 

' You catch it with both hands as though it were a 
heavy cricket ball,' she cried. ' Look at me! I catch 
it with one.' 

' There is nothing to catch,' protested Cassilis. ' It 
is like seizing gossamer. I am obliged to use both 
hands or my fingers would go through it. You must 
admit I make it fly.' 

Here he threw the globe of woven fern with such 
superfluous energy that it soared into a larch and re- 
mained suspended on a twig high over their heads. 

' There, what will you do now ? ' asked his com- 
panion. 

Cassilis stopped beneath the larch and looked up. 

' I could climb the tree easily. My only doubt is 
whether that bough would bear me.' 



ii8 Quality Corner 

' I am sure it would not. We must leave the ball up 
there.' 

' Make another,' he suggested. 

Thea shook her head smilingly. 

' The ball-playing is over. Nothing repeats itself. 
We are at the end of our game and at the end of the 
woods.' 

CassiHs came out of Arcadia with a sigh. 

' Ah, this workaday world ! ' he said. ' How shall 
we return to it ? ' 

' Through this oat-field,' replied Thea, slipping be- 
tween the irregularly placed stumps that served in lieu 
of a stile. 

' That is so,' agreed Cassilis. ' The oats mean human 
labour, the woods do not. Only in the forest is one 
free from toil.' He looked back along the glimmering 
green aisles they had traversed. ' Yes, the hunter's 
life is best. You go out with your gun and shoot 
something, bring it home and your wife cooks it. All 
so simple. So much better than this frightful tur- 
moil.' 

' Where is the turmoil ? ' 

' In oneself. No, not now. I have been very happy 
since I have been in Ringway. I am happy. I speak 
of the past. When a man comes out of a fight and sits 
down to rest, his thoughts naturally turn back to the 
racket.' 

' Why ? Better to live in the present.' 

' It is all present. There is neither past nor future.' 

His thoughts rose up like strong under-currents 
heaving to the surface, and it seemed easy to speak 
them in the light of those dark eyes meeting his own. 
He did not ask himself why it seemed so easy ; he only 



A Study of Remorse 119 

felt a sense of repose, an impulse to utter the words 
that sprang to his lips without pausing to consider 
those words. Years ago — ten years ago, the same 
repose, the same impulse had been his when in the 
presence of his friend Thorold ; but that he did not 
remember. Or rather, he remembered it dimly as in a 
dream — a pleasant dream returning. 

' Past and present may seem one, for we know both,' 
said Thea, * but not the future. Who can tell the 
future ? ' 

' That is true : ' he glanced back again at the woods 
as he followed her along the narrow path down the 
field. ' Yet the hunter's life must needs be happy, 
season following season in the free forest.' 

' Your wife might get tired of staying indoors cook- 
ing.' 

' Oh, I would help her. We could make pies to last 
a week.' 

' Hunters have no pies. For pies, cornfields are 
needed.' 

' So they are! Well then, rice puddings.' 

* I should like,' said Thea decisively, ' to put the 
entire medical profession on rice puddings for six 
weeks as their sole diet. I never yet knew a doctor 
who did not prescribe rice pudding, though I am posi- 
tive he never tasted one since he wore petticoats.' 

' They are wholesome,' pleaded Cassilis. 

' I doubt that ! People v/ho eat rice puddings are 
invariably cross. How, then, can the said puddings 
be wholesome ? ' 

' Well, I give it up. I give up all puddings and 
pies. The hunter's life is the best.' 

' You are a sportsman ? ' 



lao Quality Corner 

* I was, long ago/ 

' I thought so. I noticed the way you looked about 
in the woods, as though you expected to see a partridge 
under every fern and a pheasant on every bough/ 

' Miss Darnton would say I had given up killing 
things out of doors, and taken to killing things in- 
doors/ 

' Anything for a change ! ' observed Thea lightly. 

' Now that is too bad ! ' 

' I do not mean it/ She turned in the narrow path 
and walked backwards, her gown brushing the oats on 
either side. ' What do you suppose is going to happen 
when we reach the lane beyond this field ? ' 

' I have not the least idea. The charm of life in 
Ringway consists in its unexpectedness/ 

' A carriage will come along the lane, and Daddy in 
it. I arranged to meet him there. He has gone to 
Outwood. Will you drive home with us ? ' 

' I wish I could, but I have a patient to see near the 
lake, Pugh by name.' 

' I know him by sight. He believes that the earth is 
flat, and disapproves of preserving game.' 

* That's the man.' 

Thea stopped in her backward walk and looked 
over the waving oats at the glitter of water on the 
right. 

' There is Outwood,' she said. ' The house is old 
and delightful. Do you know the mere ? ' 

* Only this side of it. Is not that Mr. Basset's 
carriage in the lane ? ' 

It was, and Basset in it. 

' Well met,' he said. ' Come back to Outwood with 
us, Cassilis. I have just been telling Occleston that 



A Study of Remorse 121 

he ought to send for you to look at his sprained foot. 
He fell off a ladder this morning and gave his ankle 
a twist. Going to Pugh's? Well, see him as you 
return, won't that do?' 

' I dare say it will, thank you.' 



CHAPTER XIII 

OUTWOOD was a picturesque and comfortable 
old house, built in the days when people de- 
sired homes, not hotels or sleeping-boxes. It stood 
half-way up the low hill overlooking Outwood Mere, 
a lake so narrow and curving that a stranger might 
have thought it a river; the letter S best expressing 
its form. In front of the house, however, it widened 
to a beautiful sheet of calm lily-sprinkled water re- 
flecting the fringing trees and the old mansion above 
it. Part of the way to Outwood was tolerably familiar 
to Cassilis. The deep shady lane, ending in the broad 
highway, beside which the modern villa of the eccentric 
Mr. Pugh stood defiantly behind its gilt-adorned 
gates. Then the glitter of the mere through the trees 
on the right, with the chimneys of Outwood rising 
above them. Here the carriage turned down a wood- 
land road that ran through a fir plantation, where the 
wheels rolled silently over the pine needles and ring- 
doves cooed all day long. The light of water gleamed 
again between the trunks as the narrow curving end of 
the mere came into sight, crossed by a moss-grown 
stone bridge barely wide enough for the carriage. On 
through another plantation, then past the lodge and up 
a flower-bordered drive. 

' A fine old place,' Cassilis remarked as they drew 
up. 

12^ 



A Study of Remorse 123 

* And kept in good order too,' said Basset. ' Occles- 
ton is fond of his home.' 

* There are the boys and Mary on the terrace,' said 
Thea. 'They have just seen us. There is George 
Hmping. And — yes — it is Anthony. He must be tak- 
ing a holiday.' 

The two boys, manly little fellows of six and ten_, 
welcomed Thea vociferously, while Basset explained 
how he had picked up Cassilis in the lane. 

'I am so glad to see you. Dr. Cassilis,' said Mrs. 
Occleston, a fair serenely-smiling matron. ' Here is 
my husband walking about on a sprained foot ; and a 
fortnight ago he was really ill, but I could not induce 
him to send for you.' 

* I was too ill to have a doctor,' said Occleston 
gravely, but with a flash of humour in his eyes. ' If 
you send for a medical man, all your time is taken 
up in arguing with him, and that is too fatiguing 
when one feels bad. When one gets better, it is a 
great pleasure to see a doctor. I have very great 
pleasure in seeing you now. Dr. Cassilis. Excepting 
this foot, which is a trifle, I am all right to-day, and 
ready to argue.' 

' Then we will begin at once,' said Cassilis. ' Why 
are you walking about on that foot ? ' 

' Because I find I can.' 

' Precisely. It would be better if you could not. If 
you will come indoors I will look at it.' 

' I suppose Basset has told you how I did it ? — 
fell off a ladder this morning. I was looking at a 
barn-roof that was being mended. Can't trust any- 
body's work nowadays. Have to stand over them. 
People learn everything but their business.' 



124 Quality Corner 

' And forget everything but other people's,' said 
Basset. 

Occleston assented by an emphatic nod. He 
resembled his brother in face and manner. He was 
hospitable too, and genial ; pressing Cassilis to stay to 
lunch and dinner — to spend the day at Outwood in 
fact — and seeming genuinely disappointed when the 
doctor said he could not. 

' Well, some other day this week,' Occleston re- 
joined as he limped into the house to have his foot 
examined. ' It will be a real charity if I am tied in- 
doors. And you'll come to the grouse supper next 
month of course? The Twelfth, you know. Do any 
shooting yourself? I can give you some. Poachers 
about a good deal, but I mean to be even with them 
presently.' 

He led the way indoors, followed by his wife, 
Cassilis, and Basset; leaving Thea, Anthony, and the 
boys on the terrace overlooking the mere. 

' Yes, boys,' Thea responded to their entreaties, ' I 
will come and look at the new pony and black rabbits. 
How does it happen that you are here, Tony ? ' 

' Isn't it grand ? ' he replied. ' Better than standing 
over hot iron in Woflfendale. Strolling about on a 
summer morning gives one such a sense of bloated 
luxury. George sent for me to look at the new reap- 
ing machine. Something wrong with it. Up you go, 
young man ! ' this last to his youngest nephew, whom 
he snatched up and perched on his shoulder. ' Now 
for the pony and the rabbits ! ' 

' Out-of-door occupations are much better for men 
than indoor ones,' continued Thea musingly, as the 
four left the terrace for the stables. ' Mr. Parfitt 



A Study of Remorse 125 

always impresses me as being so very indoor. I 
suppose that is why his pictures are so bad, and why 
people admire them so much.' 

' What makes you think of that fellow ? ' 
' Because he came in this morning after breakfast, 
and bored Daddy and me with his theories about 
chemicals and colours. He prides himself on being 
very scientific, and I imagine that he also fancied he 
was making himself agreeable to Daddy. Tony, what 
do you do when you see a scientific person coming? ' 

* Run away,' replied Anthony promptly. 

' That is a good idea. It might apply to more 
serious crises of life. There is sometimes a tremendous 
amount of passive resistance in the mere fact of run- 
ning away.' 

' Well,' said Occleston, ' you see you have always 
the choice of two lines of conduct, either to hit out or 
to run away. The beauty of running away is that if 
you get tired of running you can always turn around 
and have a slap at the fellow you are running away 
from. Whereas if you hit out at once, you must keep 
on hitting till you have disabled your adversary. I 
mean, you mustn't hit and run. But you can run and 
then hit.' 

' Yes, I see. Tony, you are the best moral teacher 
I know.' 

* Oh, I say ! ' — there was positively a blush on his 
cheek. ' I thought you were talking about scientific 
people and things in general.' 

* So I was, and scientific people have nothing to do 
with morals, have they? In fact, they haven't any 
morals. I am sure Mr. Parfitt would hit and run 
away. I wonder how it is that an instinctive fighter, 



126 Quality Corner 

like you, Tony, has generally a better idea of morals 
than one who could not hit another in the eye to save 
his life.' 

' I don't see exactly what you are aiming at,' said 
Occleston ; ' but I am sure I am right about the hit- 
ting and not running, and the rest of it.' 

' Of course you are right,' Thea smiled on her old 
playfellow ; ' you are always right. That is your only 
fault.' 

Whereupon Anthony's swarthy face reddened more 
than ever, and a great hopefulness rose in his heart. 
Had he been older, he would have felt less hopeful 
for that frank praise. 

The pony and rabbits having been inspected and ad- 
mired to the boy's content, the two strolled back to the 
house. George Occleston, his foot bandaged, was 
sitting by one of the library windows opening on the 
terrace, pointing out the landscape to Cassilis and 
grumbling at his own accident. 

* I dare say the foot will be better for rest,' he said 
in reply to his wife's attempts at consolation, ' but it 
is very awkward. So many things to see to. Nowadays 
there is no peace for a man. About a dozen new laws 
sprung upon him every week, and each one of them 
apparently the product of a drivelling idiot. It is hke 
being tormented by a legion of imps ! ' 

' " The devil said his name was Legion," ' mur- 
mured Basset absently, looking out over the lake. 

' Ah, in these days he calls himself Parish Councils.' 

Cassilis laughed. ' So bad as that ? ' 

' Quite,' replied Occleston gravely. 

' The Councils usually meet in rooms of unimagina- 
tive and aggressive colour,' said Basset, turning away 



A Study of Remorse 127 

from the window. ' Something more brilliant and 
sympathetic is needed.' 

' Not rose-colour, Basset. They see too much rose- 
colour in the ratepayers' pockets already. If you can 
devise any protective colouring for us poor landlords, 
you will be doing a noble act.' 

' You perceive. Dr. Cassilis, that my husband does 
not possess his soul in peace respecting modem legis- 
lation ; ' this from Mrs. Occleston. 

* No, by Jove ! ' growled George. * A man's soul 
will soon be the only thing left him, and a good many 
people would deny him even the possession of that ! 
Nowadays I cannot understand my own language. 
Words have not the same meaning they had in my 
boyhood. A Free Library means a library that one 
man is compelled to pay for that another may be 
amused free of cost to himself. Government has 
turned highwayman, searches my pockets, and strips 
me to my shirt and trousers.' 

* George ! ' expostulated his wife. 

But Occleston had settled fairly into his stride. 

' To my shirt and trousers,' he repeated emphati- 
cally. ' There is no reason Mary, why I should not 
mention my shirt and trousers. This Robin Hood 
system says " You have denied yourself and saved. 
This chap has done neither. Therefore you must give 
him the cash you have gained by your carefulness." 
I don't see it. But I've got to do it. I am taxed to 
provide, against my convictions, a godless education 
for the nation. Is that compulsion of conscience, or 
is it not? If I refuse to pay, my goods are seized. Is 
that religious persecution, or is it not? This is the 
age of robbery and cant. The only liberty left is the 



128 Quality Corner 

liberty to make my neighbour's life a burden to him. 
I may do that to my heart's content. But I may not 
strive to be quiet and mind my own business. I may 
not even follow the religion of my forefathers with- 
out being called a fool for so doing ! ' 

' Our rulers multiply,' said CassiHs. 

Occleston nodded. ' Of course. The lower forms 
of life always multiply. And a pretty noise they make 
about liberty. What liberty do they mean? The lib- 
erty to restrain other people. Presently I too shall 
begin bawling for that particular sort of liberty — the 
liberty to restrain them. You are not going yet, 
surely ? ' as Cassilis rose. 

' I am afraid I must. I am due at your opposite 
neighbour's.' 

' Pugh ? Oh, never mind him. I'll swear there is 
nothing the matter with him.' 

* He suffers a good deal from indigestion.' 

' I don't wonder at it. A man may well have indi- 
gestion when he swallows such theories as Pugh's. 
They are worse than Basset's.' 

' If my success in Mr. Pugh's case depends on my 
persuading him to relinquish his views, I fear his 
chance of recovery is small.' 

' Has he told you that the earth is flat ? ' pursued 
Occleston. 

' Yes.' 

' And that a man's soul may be cleansed by a judi- 
cious course of mineral water from all the sins he has 
committed or intends to commit.' 

' Something of that sort.' 

* And that the preserving of partridges is 
wicked ? ' 



« A Study of Remorse 129 

* I have not yet heard about the partridges.' 

* Ah, you will. Particularly if you join our shoot- 
ing-party. Whenever he hears poachers have been 
busy on my domains he tells me it is a judgment. Bas- 
set, why don't you bring your brother-philosopher to 
reason ? ' 

* I deny that Pugh is a brother-philosopher,' said 
Basset placidly. ' He is simply a fool. Many people 
consider the two synonymous, but in this case they 
are not so. Pugh is a man with a mission. I am a 
man with convictions.' 

' But people with missions are people with convic- 
tions,' said Anthony. 

* True, my dear boy. The reverse, however, is not 
true. People with convictions are not necessarily 
people with missions. The more justice there is in a 
man's opinions the less chance there is of others agree- 
ing with him. Wherefore, if he values his peace, he 
will refrain from too strenuous endeavour to spread 
those opinions. I value my peace.' 

* I do not think Mr. Pugh has convictions,' said 
Thea reflectively. ' He has retired from business hav- 
ing never known anything but business. So his mind 
being empty and an idle life seeming dull, he snatches 
at the first ideas that present themselves. He is dull, 
poor man, that is all. Perhaps he will get into Par- 
liament some day. Then that will amuse him.' 

' Pray Heaven he doesn't get into the County Coun- 
cil ! That would amuse him too much. He is a terrible 
nuisance anywhere. Is he not at this moment depriv- 
ing me of a pleasant companion ? ' 

Occleston uttered these last words with a genial 
grace of manner that struck the wanderer afresh. 



130 Quality Corner 

' I will do my best to deserve that epithet when I 
come again,' he said. 

And so Cassilis departed. 

* I like that fellow,' said Occleston. ' Got some 
sense in him. He'll not aim at my ear when we go 
out shooting together. He notices things. He has 
that faculty of acute observation which is seldom 
possessed by any man who is not either a sportsman 
or the immediate descendant of one. Pugh says it's 
slaughter, but when the rabbits eat his cabbages, Pugh 
sings out for slaughter as loudly an anybody. You 
cannot shut your eyes to facts, and the all-seeing eye 
of a sportsman is a fact. Of course I am not speaking 
of the man who shoots in a poultry-yard, with a couple 
of flunkeys to hand him his guns, and who, if he misses 
his birds, never by any chance misses his friends. But 
the man who has walked over miles of stubble and 
heather with only his dogs to keep him company, will 
see more in five minutes than the most learned ass will 
perceive in a year. Old Xenophon was right. Curi- 
ous that we never get beyond the Greeks in these mat- 
ters. If I were really ill, I'd send for my head 
gamekeeper to nurse me. Then I should not be poi- 
soned by accident, or killed by any other tom-fool 
notion.' 

' I think I should like an old man-o'-war's man for 
a nurse,' said Thea ; ' sailors are always such splendid 
and sympathetic nurses.' 

' There you are again,' said George ; 'it is the 
trained fighting man — the trained killer, if you like — 
who can be trusted to think of consequences. He 
knows that when a bullet goes into a man it is apt to 



A Study of Remorse 131 

prove troublesome. Therefore he will not be too 
fond of dosing you with drugs. The average doctor 
regards your poor body as a target for practice, and 
fires away as contentedly as a yokel at a fair, six shots 
a penny. He may hit the bull's-eye or not, probably 
not. Meanwhile the rest of the target suffers — oh, 
Lord ! ' 

' Well, Cassilis is careful enough,' said Anthony. 
' He thinks a lot.' 

* I don't believe he does.' responded George. ' He 
knows better. He observes and acts. There is too 
much thinking nowadays. People think and think 
till they don't know what they think, and then they 
sit down and write about it,' 

Basset nodded and rose, glancing at Thea, who 
was talking to Mrs. Occleston. ' We must be going,' 
he said. 

' Where ? ' inquired Occleston. ' Home ? Nonsense. 
You and Thea must stay to lunch. We have heard 
none of the news from Quality Comer as yet.' 

' There is a very good lunch waiting at home,' said 
Basset irresolutely. 

* You old sybarite ! — there is just as good a one 
here. 

* Thea has agreed to stay,' interposed Mrs. 
Occleston. 

' Oh, then I must,' rejoined Basset meekly. 

' That's right,' said his host in a tone of satisfac- 
tion. ' I have just got some Burgundy that beats 
yours, Basset.' 

' Impossible.' 

' As good then. Presently one will apply for official 



132 Quality Corner 

permission to put a bottle on the table, or to say one's 
prayers. The Deluge approaches, a universe of 
wheels, taxes, reformations. I shall be put into a re- 
formatory. You, Basset, will be put out of the world.' 

'Why?' 

' Because you enjoy it so much.' 



CHAPTER XIV 

MEANWHILE Cassilis had gone down the drive, 
past the lodge, and into the dusky fir planta- 
tion where the old stone bridge spanned the narrow 
curving lake. Here he stopped for a moment looking 
down into the still water beneath. Outwood Mere was 
very deep, much deeper than a stranger would be 
likely to suppose; and its sides were nearly precipi- 
tous, by reason of the hollow of the lake being no 
shelving cup of land, but a cleft in the sandstone 
rock. Perhaps the depth of the water gave it that 
dark glassiness. Cassilis leant over the rough stone 
parapet and looked into the sombre mere as into a 
mirror. Under the shadows of the firs on either side, 
its clear darkness changed to black, the blackness of 
night — that is, not opaque, but possessing a certain 
transparency; and everywhere it held an under- world 
of dim reflections, not shifting nor blurred, but as in 
a glass darkly. The shadow of a bird crossed the 
bough shadows ; a pale shadow, a ringdove surely, 
for the little woods were full of doves, and their cooing 
seemed to emphasise the silence. A blue dragonfly 
shot past, returned, and settled on a tuft of sunlit 
moss by the edge of the parapet, the sunshine caught 
in its quivering wings. The insect made a spot of 
jewel-like brilliancy on the shadowed bridge, the 
transparent glistening wings and body of vivid 
sapphire against the deep bright green of the moss. 
133 



134 Quality Corner 

In another moment it darted away, and Cassilis's eye 
followed its angular flight beyond the woods. There, 
where the widening mere lay in sunshine between 
meadow and hill, the water was pearl-grey tinted 
with faintest blue — the blue of the pale northern sky 
above it. The shower of two hours ago had left no 
traces, save a brighter sheen on the grass — a green 
as of earliest spring. Again he noticed the subtle 
colouring of the landscape — green, grey, blue, and 
this deep dark water flowing under his feet. The 
singular stillness and restraint, as it were, of this 
northern summer ; the cooing of the doves ; the soft 
coolness of the moist breeze that rustled in the fir- 
boughs ; the sun-flecked ground, here strewn with 
pine-needles, there green with velvet patches of moss. 
Somehow it all suggested no change of season, no 
rush of spring, no heat of summer, autumnal glow, nor 
winter cold; but rather the unchanging beauty of the 
Tir-fa-Ton — the land beneath the sea, where the wind 
blows ever from the west, and the light is the light of 
an opal, and the turmoil of the world comes to the ear 
but as the rolling of the waves. 

That was an unexpected murmur from the past 
that Cassilis had heard this morning. His mind 
recurred to it as he leant over the mossy parapet. 
Strange that June Stanham should be here. ' June 
Heald ' she wished to be called. He must remember 
that. Poor woman! she had had a hard life. Well, 
she seemed comfortable enough now. A grateful soul 
she had always been ; she had done him a good turn. 
Yes, but why had he been such a fool as to go oiT 
after that appointment? He might have known he 
would not get it. And for every reason how much 



A Study of Remorse 135 

better it would have been to have stayed — how much 
wiser! There was no reason why he should not 
have stayed. But that heedless going away had 
placed him in a position impossible of explanation 
should need of explanation arise. That was not 
likely. Yet June had mentioned a lawyer named 
Rudell. Was he Rudell of Quality Corner? Thorold 
had never spoken of Ringway, nor uttered the name 
of Rudell. True, once, when they were discussing 
the appointment that Cassilis scarcely hoped to gain, 
Thorold, the consoler, had said he knew a place in the 
North where he thought there was a good opening for 
a medical man. He had friends there, he added. 
Then the subject dropped, Cassilis being too absorbed 
with the immediate chance to think much of this far- 
away one. Could Ringway have been the place to 
which Thorold had alluded? It was possible; civil 
engineers drift about to many places and make many 
friends. After all he, Cassilis, had known but little 
of his rescuer Thorold. If the two Rudells were iden- 
tical, and Parfitt happened to talk of that night ten 
years ago? Here Cassilis fell to wondering if he, 
James Cassilis, were indeed the same man who had 
stood by the window that night. 

' When we have learnt to see our mistakes,' he 
said aloud, ' it is too late to mend them.' 

Far down in the depths of the mere, among the 
interlacing reflections, he saw, in fancy, the poor room, 
and himself standing by the open window, his old 
wretched half-starved self; June Heald, a slim scared 
girl ; and his friend Thorold — yes, his friend's face, 
handsome, sunny, kindly, rose up clearly before him. 

* Our mistakes,' he repeated, ' and our unpardon- 



136 Quality Corner 

able sins, which are our worst mistakes ; not to be 
mended even hereafter.' 

Thoughts and feelings surged up like strong 
currents as the visions of bygone days rose in his 
mind and shadowed themselves in the deep water as 
he gazed; and thus thinking, yet another thought 
arose, strong, vigorous. Seeing that neither in this 
world nor in the next could the past be undone, his 
dead friend and he meet as before that fatal moment 
that brought death to the one and lifelong remorse to 
the other — seeing that these things could not be 
changed, why should not he, Cassilis enjoy the 
present? To the past he had sacrificed his ambition, 
had drifted hither and thither in obscurity of his own 
free will. For the future? — to all men comes death, 
and after death judgment, when he would meet with 
the due reward of his deed. But till then — why, he 
was only thirty-six. Long years of happiness he 
might enjoy here in this green silent land of sun and 
shower whither fate had led him. Once more he 
spoke aloud. 

' To live in the present is the secret of happiness. 
I will live in the present,' he said, turning away from 
the dark glass of the mere to the sun-dappled, pine- 
scented woods around him. ' I will be happy as other 
men are — happier.' 



CHAPTER XV 

DID not Hermes remark that if Prometheus were 
prosperous he would be intolerable? Quite so. 
And why ? Because he possessed greater capacity than 
all the rabble of Olympus put together. Therefore 
fasten him to his rock, for of course if you have power 
to torment him, his capacity cannot be so great after 
all. At any rate, it is of no use to him. Bound as he 
is, he cannot earn a decent meal for himself. Obvi- 
ously he is a failure. Let us hear no more nonsense 
about his possessing the sacred fire. No fire is worth 
anything unless you can cook by it. Finally, whether 
one has any particular reason or not, it is always pleas- 
ant to worry one's Prometheus. 

Just now Cassilis happened to be Parfitt's Pro- 
metheus. Chiefly on account of Thea, but also 
by reason of a combination of circumstances that 
brought Mark's worst side uppermost. He was essen- 
tially an artist made, not born. A man of talent, not 
of genius. He had accepted the commission to paint 
the eastward fresco in Wofifendale Town Hall because 
he wanted the money offered, but he disliked the work 
because it kept him out of town. He did not espe- 
cially object to sitting in a gloomy hall outside whose 
windows hovered a perpetual fog of smoke. Pro- 
vided there was enough light to work by, the cloudy 
sky and sooty atmosphere troubled him not at all. A 

137 



138 Quality Corner 

man of a higher type, feeling the need of pure colour 
amid the dinginess of that grimy workshop called 
Woffendale, would have made the walls glow like the 
curtains of the Tabernacle. Parfitt had very little 
sense of colour. He prided himself on his realism ; 
that is, he could see the mud puddle, not the rainbow 
glory. Therefore the conditions of his work did not 
disturb him. But when the day was over and the train 
bore him out to green fern-scented Ringway, to the 
little world of Quality Corner, he felt that he was sit- 
ting under a microscope, and he resented the calm 
scrutiny to which he was subjected. It was for the 
provinces to admire, not to criticise. Parfitt did not 
exactly acknowledge this to himself, he possessed some 
glimmer of humour. Nevertheless offended vanity 
was the underlying cause of the feeling of general 
annoyance with which he regarded Ringway and the 
inhabitants thereof. Certainly they had treated him 
well as far as hospitality went; yet there was a de- 
cided absence of the deference he had expected 
when he condescended to stay in a smaller town, 
instead of putting up at a Woffendale hotel, and run- 
ning up to London every week as he might have 
done. Of course he had accepted his sister's invita- 
tion with a view to marrying a rich wife. But the 
wife had proved more difficult to obtain than he had 
anticipated. Parfitt did not imagine things that were 
non-existent. He saw that Thea was as indifferent 
to him as ever, for which reason he had almost de- 
cided on marrying her. Mark was not accustomed 
to failure. This last fortnight had convinced him that 
Cassilis was becoming a far too prominent figure in 
Quality Corner. The artist had noticed his increasing 



A Study of Remorse 139 

buoyancy, the joyousness that seemed to radiate from 
him and shone in his glance. Here was a flame of hfe 
rising too high, burning too brightly to please Parfitt. 
He said to himself that the fellow was growing intol- 
erable, and where had he met him before? Surely 
he had not only seen that face, but had drawn it. 

Among Parfitt 's impedimenta was a portfolio of 
old sketches. He had brought them down with him 
thinking they might be of use. Now on this par- 
ticular morning, as he sat before his fresco in a dis- 
tinctly bad temper, he remembered that portfolio 
and proceeded to turn over its contents. Apparently 
the search was satisfactory, for he drew out and rolled 
up a charcoal drawing. Then putting away his 
brushes and telling the attendant he should do no 
more w^ork that day. Mark made his way through the 
hot noisy streets to the station. 

Half-an-hour later he surprised his sister by walk- 
ing into the drawing-room of Xumber Four. 

'Why, Mark!' she said, 'I thought you got the 
best working light at this time.' 

* Art is long and Time is fleeting, therefore it be- 
hooves us to make the best of Time and let Art take 
care of itself,' he replied, dropping into a comfortable 
chair — it was characteristic of Parfitt that he always 
chose the most comfortable chairs. ' Look at that ! ' 

As he spoke, he unrolled the drawing and handed 
it to his sister. 

'Dr. Cassilis, is it not? But you have made him 
too young.' 

' I did it ten years ago. There's the date in the 
comer. I was sure I had seen him before.' 

'Where?' 



140 Quality Corner 

' Ah, that I cannot recollect. But I have no doubt 
I shall remember presently.' 

' Did you think of putting him in a picture ? It is 
a picturesque sort of face.' 

' It is the face of a man who will never succeed,' 
said Parfitt, taking the drawing from Mrs. Rudell and 
regarding it critically. ' He will be too conscientious, 
or too hesitating, or too amusing, or too something 
or other.' 

' I do not see how a man can be too amusing to 
succeed,' said Mrs. Rudell. 

' Easily enough. To succeed you must give the 
impression of having succeeded. That is, you must 
wear a good coat and expect other people to amuse 
you. Then they believe you have a big balance at 
your banker's, and they hasten to make it bigger. If 
you are too brilliant, the dear creatures think you 
have dined on a turnip, which is the privilege of 
genius, not of success.' 

' I do not think brilliancy would last long if fed on 
turnip.' 

' That is the use of the turnip-diet. Like war, it 
clears off the strong and gives others a chance. If all 
our geniuses had a good dinner every day, poor tal- 
ented devils like myself would be nowhere.' 

' Everyone thinks you a great genius, Mark.' 

' And I will take care they think it to the end,' re- 
sponded her brother. ' I possess at least one un- 
doubted talent, that of getting on.' 

He looked again at the drawing, and his sister 
looked at him. 

' He is a brute,' she thought ; and then she re- 
flected that he was just the husband for Thea 



A Study of Remorse 141 

Basset, whom Susette did not like. As the adopted 
daughter of an easy-going old bachelor with plenty 
of money, Thea was really far too independent to 
please Mrs. Rudell ; who, being herself thoroughly 
commonplace, was further annoyed by the girl's 
individuality. Most people demand that others shall 
be a copy of themselves — a feeble copy of course, and 
they regard the infinite variety in the work of the 
Master Potter as rather due to His adversary the devil 
tampering with the clay. That interlacing of thought 
and feeling, swiftly changing moods of dreamy in- 
sight, gay jest, and generous sympathy, and the 
curious impression of remoteness that she gave, as of 
a spirit, while yet of so marked a personality that 
none could ignore her; a subtle force always to be 
reckoned with, like dew which may be frost ; in short, 
all that was Thea merely inspired Susette with a 
desire to blur, if not to destroy, these rare and 
delicate mouldings fashioned by the Potter's hand. 
Nothing of that sort could long exist beside Mark 
Parfitt, therefore he was clearly the right husband for 
the girl. And he needed money. Thus thinking, his 
sister spoke: 

' You really ought to pay Thea Basset more atten- 
tion, Mark.' 

He was still looking at the charcoal sketch of 
Cassilis that he held in his hand. 

' A good Hamlet face,' he said musingly. ' Now 
where was I when I did this? There was some story 
connected with it too, I am pretty certain.' 

' Did you hear what I said about Thea ? ' 

' I heard. But the most essential thing is to clear 
this fellow out of the way. How much has Basset ? ' 



14a Quality Corner 

* Gregory says his income is nearly three thousand 
a year, and he has never spent even a thousand. He 
has been saving for years.' 

' Where does the money come from ? ' 

' Oh, a coal-mine, I beHeve. He owns one, or part 
of one, or something or other. I don't exactly under- 
stand it. Gregory will explain. He knows all Mr. Bas- 
set's affairs. There is some land also, one or two farms.' 

* Land is no good nowadays,' said Parfitt, still look- 
ing at the drawing, ' and I dare say the coals go to 
some relatives at his death.' 

' I never heard he had any,' 

' Must have. No man is free from that sort of im- 
pedimenta. However, there must be a nice little sum 
laid by, worth trying for perhaps. Meanwhile, I will 
oust this fellow, I am determined.' 

' You will not do so if you are not more devoted in 
your manner to Thea herself. There is Tony Occles- 
ton as well.' 

' Pooh ! a boy.' 

' He is four-and-twenty.' 

'A boy,' repeated Parfitt. 'The first thing is to 
settle Cassilis. I wish I could remember when and 
where I did this,' laying down the drawing. 

' Why do you not show it to Mr. Basset and say you 
have heard some queer story about him. I am sure 
that is simple enough.' 

' Simple certainly, but not enough. I must have 
something substantial to go upon. It is only a doctor 
who can make people swallow anything, either in 
drugs or statements.' He leant back in his chair and 
stifled a yawn. ' This is a dull hole. Hunting Cassilis 
down will amuse me, whether I decide to marry Thea 
Basset or not.' 



A Study of Remorse 143 

' She may decide on marrying someone else while 

you are deliberating.' 

' In that case I shall still remain free.' 

' I have no more heiresses for you. Emily has only 

her house and a mere pittance.' 

* And would not suit me either. What is that on 
the table ? I think I see my name.' 

' Oh, it is an invitation to the grouse supper at 
Outwood on the Twelfth.' 

' What sort of entertainment is it ? ' 

* Just a grouse supper, nothing more. It is an an- 
nual affair. If the night is fine, we walk over through 
the woods — all Quality Corner, I mean, and eat grouse 
cooked in every way you can imagine, and then walk 
back. If the weather is bad, we drive. That is all.' 

' I suppose all the Corner goes ? ' 

' Yes. Everybody.' 

'What time?' 

' The supper ? Ten o'clock. Who is that at the 
door?' 

The visitor was Emily Darnton, and after a few 
minutes' desultory conversation Mrs. Rudell took the 
opportunity of utilising her brother's sketch. 

* Do you recognise this ? ' she asked, holding up the 
drawing. 

Emily did recognise it, and would have said so had 
she not caught a sudden look of expectant cunning in 
Susette's eyes. It was gone in a moment, but Emily 
had seen it. Therefore she scrutinised the drawing 
with an uncertain air, and at last said doubtfully: 

' Is it intended for Dr. Cassilis? ' 

Mark answered : ' It is a sketch of him that I made 
ten years ago, as you see by the date on the drawing. 
Singular thing that I should come across him again 



144 Quality Corner 

here, and I accidentally found the sketch to-day when 
looking over an old portfolio. However, I had better 
put it away. I don't suppose Cassilis would be ex- 
actly pleased.' 

' You mean you drew this portrait without his 
knowledge. Certainly I should consider that rather a 
liberty.' 

Emily said this with the intention of annoying Par- 
fitt. She was displeased by his manner, which sug- 
gested something derogatory to Cassilis. 

' People are only too delighted if an artist like Mark 
will take the trouble to draw them,' Mrs. Rudell ob- 
served with considerable asperity. 

' Some people,' rejoined Emily coolly. 

' You are quite right. Miss Darnton, but the pleasure 
or otherwise depends more on the circumstances under 
which the drawing is taken than on the people. Not 
so much who, as when, and where.' Mark paused, 
then, picking up the sketch, added as though half 
speaking to himself, ' I thought of showing this to 
Mr. Basset, but perhaps I had better not.' 

' Show it to my cousin Tony Occleston,' said Emily, 
rising to go. ' He would take great interest in it, I 
am sure. Good-bye, Susette.' 

Parfitt understood the remark. He knew right well 
what would be Occleston 's view of the matter. But he 
did not care in the least, of which fact Emily was quite 
aware. 

' Of course he would not care about Tony's indigna- 
tion,' she mused as she went into her own house. 
' However, it was something disagreeable to say, and 
I am glad I said it.' 



CHAPTER XVI 

EMILY DARNTON sat down to write letters. 
That is, she pulled out pen and paper, then leant 
back in her chair by the window looking into the street. 
The stillness of the July afternoon lay upon Quality 
Corner, a stillness broken now and then by cart-wheels 
rolling over the cobbles of the market-place, or the 
sharper ring of a horse's hoofs along the road, where 
little puffs of grey dust rose up here and there as the 
light breeze bestirred itself. 

Emily bent forward to see more of the Corner. 

' Our curtains are rather characteristic,' she thought. 
* Susette's frilled muslin with blue bows, my Pompeian 
reds, Mr. Basset's silken lavender draperies, and Dr. 
Cassilis's perfectly correct and proper old-fashioned 
lace, very white and stifif. I suppose he bought them 
with the furniture and the old woman. I wonder why 
those curtains give such an air of respectability to a 
house. They are certainly the wisest sort for a bach- 
elor doctor. If he hung up some pretty art muslin 
with pink ribbons, people would require him to marry 
before they would consult him.' 

Emily's eyes still rested on the lace curtains, her 
thoughts occupied with their owner. He would do 
well to marry Thea. Perhaps she might refuse him ? 
Yet that was hardly probable ; she evidently liked the 
man, and he was undeniably attractive. Was there a 
story behind him? Well, the charm of the man him- 

145 



146 Quality Corner 

self was such that one felt an interest in the story and 
wished to hear it. Also, one was prepared to become 
aggressive about it, to defend him if need be. Here 
Miss Darnton paused to consider whether her cham- 
pionship of Cassilis rose from liking for him or dislike 
of Susette Rudell and her brother. 

' Something of both,' Emily decided. ' One is 
always more ready to do a bad turn than a good one, 
and when it is possible to combine the two one's con- 
science is at rest and one's heart elated.' 

The sound of wheels came down the road; Thea 
and Mr. Basset were returning from Outwood. Emily 
resolutely began her letter-writing. ' If I run in there, 
I shall be telling her about the portrait. And I had 
better not. At least, I think not.' 

But the letter was not half written when a swift soft 
rush of garments swept in and Thea's voice exclaimed 
laughingly : 

' Is it possible that you condescend to those horrors 
called letter-cards? How do you stick down those 
miles of edges? Do you use your own poor tongue, 
or do you have the dog in ? ' 

' I have the dog in,' pointing to a mat whereon re- 
posed an aged setter. 

* Dear old Ponto ! What an occupation for his old 
age ! Emily, we have been at Outwood.' 

* So I supposed. Where did you meet Dr. Cassilis ? ' 
' In the woods. We took him to see George, who 

has hurt his ankle. How did you know ? ' 

' I did not know. I merely saw Dr. Cassilis going 
into his own house with an air of decided exhilaration, 
like a schoolboy who has not only stolen apples, but has 
eaten them too. And as I have observed that your 



A Study of Remorse 147 

society usually produces that effect on the masculine 
countenance, I drew my own conclusions.' 

During this speech a variety of expressions flitted 
across Thea Basset's face; slight surprise, slight con- 
tempt, slight anger, and considerable amusement. 

' Do you not think, Emily, that this is a little — just 
a little ?' 

' Yes, it is. I am already ashamed of myself. I 
must find something to amuse me at once, or I per- 
ceive I shall become intolerable.' 

' Would it amuse you just now to have tea with me? 
I came to ask you and Ponto. Daddy has gone into 
the market-place to hear the news of the town, so I am 
alone.' 

* Of course I will come,' Emily rose briskly. ' So 
will the dog. He likes visiting as much as I do.' 

There was always something peculiarly soothing 
about that dark-panelled gold-tinted room of Number 
Two. Emily settled herself in a chair with an air of 
placid enjoyment, while the old setter drew instinct- 
ively towards the flickering wood fire and curled him- 
self up on the rug. 

' I am wondering,' she said, lazily watching Thea 
at the spindle-legged tea-table, ' why your rooms give 
such a sense of well-being, of serene gaiety. Is it that 
almost perpetual fire you keep up? There is an idea 
of household virtue about the hearth-fire, and a summer 
fire fanned by open windows denotes wideness of mind. 
When it is a wood fire, one may safely expect culture 
and independent thought.' 

* Combined with the household virtues of which you 
spoke ? ' Thea inquired with that lightning-like smile 
of hers. 



148 Quality Corner 

* Of course. Culture implies the household virtues. 
It appreciates rest, therefore it attends to the fire and 
all other home comforts. Nowadays people are so busy 
running about that one hardly ever sees a nice bright 
fire except in Quality Corner and at Outwood. Sitting 
still is a noble art going out of fashion. I wish I 
could find a man who has never ridden a bicy- 
cle.' 

* Why ? What would you do with him ? ' 

' Marry him,' said Emily calmly, and Thea laughed. 

' It is no laughing matter,' Emily protested. ' Noth- 
ing would induce me to ride a bicycle. It would not 
amuse me any more that it would you. But if one's 
husband rides and one does not, some odious woman 
on wheels rides with him.' 

' He probably would not want her.' 

' Whether he wanted her or not, she would be there,' 
gloomily. ' I think I had better marry a sailor. Then 
he will not have so much time for running about on 
land.' 

' You seem very much harassed on the subject of 
marriage ! ' 

' I am. At one time I thought I would remain sin- 
gle. Now I have decided to marry. But whom ? On 
the whole, I think a sailor would be best. What is 
your opinion ? ' 

* Why not drift into it or not into it, as life's tide 



swmgs you 



' I could not drift,' said Emily emphatically. ' I 
shall marry with the deliberate intention of marrying. 
I have not your gift of enjoying the passing moods of 
life. I need more occupation. Therefore, I must 
marry. How else shall I spend my time? Thea, you 



A Study of Remorse 149 

have given that dog eight biscuits in ten minutes. 
Please stop.' 

* How would you like to be limited as to cups of 
tea? Let Ponto decide for himself. I respect free- 
will,' and she threw another biscuit to the setter. 

' I also respect free-will, except where it clashes 
with mine.' 

' Be a reformer, Emily. That sentiment is admir- 
able.' 

Miss Damton shook her head. 

' The world is past mending. It is a garment so 
old and worn that every patch put on its rents slits it 
worse in some other direction. The only way to reform 
it is to tip up the Atlantic' 

' Decidedly, dear, you were intended to be a re- 
former.' 

' Not so. I perceive too clearly the need of the At- 
lantic. I must marry a man who is nice and narrow. 
Then he will do something. These wide outlooks are 
very discouraging.' 

* You are as melancholy as George. He was utter- 
ing lamentations as usual. Reasonable ones, I admit. 
But still lamentations.' 

* I sympathise with him. Mary sent me the grouse 
supper invitation to-day. I suppose the whole Corner 
will go, including that man Parfitt, who will doubtless 
confide his hopes to you as we walk through the woods.' 

' He has no hopes,' replied Thea with the airy light- 
ness characteristic of her. ' He merely makes arrange- 
ments for his future. At present, however, I do not 
think I come into his arrangements. He was never 
quite sure whether he would marry me or not, and just 
now he is thoroughly tired of me.' 



150 Quality Corner 

' No, not tired.' 

' Yes, tired. The situation has been a triangular 
one from the first. Susette is quite sure I shall marry 
her brother, I am quite sure I shall not ; and Mr. Par- 
fitt, after giving considerable thought to the subject, is 
more than half inclined to relinquish the idea. I bore 
him so terribly.' 

' Here,' thought Emily, ' is my opportunity of men- 
tioning that portrait of Dr. Cassilis. Yet after all, 
what is there to tell ? ' 

She watched Thea stirring the smouldering log in 
the grate, a miniature log that had once been an 
apple-bough, and was now passing away in soft 
feathery flame — the delicate flame of burning wood, 
fanned by the cool air from the blossoming garden. 
Outside in the street, voices and echoing footsteps 
broke on the silence of the room, 

* Mr. Parfitt is not bored, he is jealous,' said Emily 
so suddenly that Thea, stooping .over the fire, looked 
round in laughing surprise. 

' Why speak so explosively ? ' 

' Oh, because I wish he had never come here^ be- 
cause I feel that he will somehow break up the peace 
of the Corner, and I adore the Corner. It is unique. 
He has got a drawing of Dr. Cassilis done ten years 
ago, and there is some story about it. At least, he 
and Susette implied that by their manner.' 

' Are you imagining the peace of the Corner im- 
perilled by Susette's fancies? Neither portrait nor 
story, assuming that they exist, can concern us.' 

' Perhaps not,' Emily responded doubtfully. 

* And Dr. Cassilis is able to take care of himself.' 

* I am not sure of that. He takes care of other 



A Study of Remorse 151 

people, which is a distinctly bad habit for a man's own 
interests. Then he himself is unusual, which is 
worse.' 

' It gives him friends.' 

* And enemies. Directly a man or woman seems 
to be worth anything, people begin looking about for 
half-bricks. That is how you can test the worth of 
a human being, by observing the number of the flying 
half-bricks and the sort of people who throw them. 
Mr. Basset is lucky in being a rich man. If he were 
not, the atmosphere would be thick with missiles. 
You, Thea, are protected by Mr. Basset.' 

' Thanks for the implied compliment.' 
' It is true. When is that man going to finish his 
fresco ? ' 

' I do not know.' 

' Has he not told you ? ' 

* No, he expects to be asked.' 

Emily laughed. ' He is detestable, and so is Susette. 
I hope they will not upset the Comer. I feel respon- 
sible, because Mark Parfitt's presence here is my doing. 
Had I never invited Susette, she would never have 
married Mr. Rudell, and her brother would never 
have seen Ringway. I have a sort of second-sight ; 
something disagreeable will happen.' 

' Is the sketch a large one ? ' 

* Of Dr. Cassilis ? No, only head and shoulders, 
and younger than he is now.' 

' I daresay Mr. Parfitt has done it just lately. Why 
has he not shown it before ? ' 

' Whether the drawing is new or not will make no 
difference. If they have anything unpleasant to say 
about Dr. CassiUs, they will say it. If they have not, 



152 Quality Corner 

they will say it just the same. Then everybody will 
takes sides, and what becomes of the Comer ? ' 

' Emily, I find your conversation most depressing ! ' 

' So do I.' 

* Then why put things in so doleful a manner ? Here 
comes Daddy ! I will tell him you are as sad as though 
you were a millionaire.' 

' How is that ? ' said Basset, entering. ' Emily sad ? 
My dear, can I do anything ? ' 

' Oh no, Mr. Basset, thank you. It is nothing. A 
passing and a foolish mood.' 

' Then, my dear, let me prescribe for the mood. 
Stay and dine with us. The scent of tea-roses, which 
is our house-perfume to-day, usually produces serenity 
of mind ; and the dinner, I assure you, is one calculated 
to raise the spirits.' 

' I am sure it is. You see I am more cheerful 
already. I will go home and put on a smart gown.' 

' Do, my dear, and fascinate Parfitt.' 

* Is he coming ? ' 

' Do not look so disgusted, Emily,' said Thea. * This 
is one of our duty dinners, and you must help us with 
it. We will invite you to a really nice entertainment 
presently as a reward.' 

' I do not like the fellow myself,' said Basset, ' but 
I wished to ask the Rudells, and one can hardly ignore 
their guest and relative. I hoped to have had Cassilis, 
but he is dining elsewhere. Perhaps he may drop in 
later.' 

* Well then, good-bye for ten minutes. What is to 
be done with Ponto ? ' 

' Leave him here, he is also a guest,' replied Thea. 



CHAPTER XVII 

THERE had been rain in the night, and a westerly- 
wind, warm and strong, was blowing under a sky 
of luminous dappled-grey cloud. No blue — not so much 
as would have made a corn-flower; only the milk- 
white, ashen-grey clouds, blown up from the sea and 
moving eastward in swift shining procession. The 
sky of pearl deepened the green of grass and tree 
to vivid emerald, and the vanished blue reappeared 
in the woods and on the far horizon as violet mist. 

Cassilis was walking to the Moss Farm to see his 
small patient there. On the brow of the hill he 
paused, glancing round at the now familiar landscape, 
the woods behind him, the wide valley in front, and 
far away to the left a gleam of light that he knew to 
be the extreme end of Outwood Mere, which he had 
seen reflecting the crescent moon on St. John's Eve. 

' The mystic fern-seed ! ' he said aloud, smiling as 
he recalled Thea's fanciful explanation of that far- 
away glitter. The mere had a curious attraction for 
him. It harmonised so completely with this wet green 
country of moss and grey lichen, of blue mist and 
blowing cloud. Yet was there not something sinister 
about that singularly picturesque sheet of water, some 
fairy glamour that might or might not be friendly? 
Here Cassilis laughed at his own idle thought, and 
quickened his steps towards the farm. Here was no 
fantasy, but homely peace and unhurrying toil. 

153 



154 Quality Corner 

Little Joe, now positively elated by the possession 
of a broken arm, was sitting on an upturned bucket 
in the farmyard, and steadily eating his way through 
a large slice of bread and honey that, owing to his dis- 
regard for the comers, fitted his face like a sickle. 
Beside him a crowd of ducks jostled each other over 
the yellow meal that old Martha threw to them out of 
a wooden bowl. 

' This is the best life,' thought CassiHs as his eyes 
fell on the scene, ' the life that is nearest to Mother 
Earth — that makes friends of the seasons ; the Ufe that 
this century is doing its best to destroy.' 

Here the old woman, seeing him, hastened indoors 
to fetch June; who came out apologising for young 
Joe's extremely sticky condition. 

' Yo' see, sir, eating is such an amusement.' 

And Cassilis quite agreed that eating was a great 
amusement. 

' You are looking well, Mrs. Heald,' he remarked 
when the boy had been inspected and dismissed to 
his upturned bucket and bread and honey ; ' this life 
evidently suits you.' 

' Why yes, sir, I've about settled to stay. Mr. 
Gresty has asked me to marry him, an' I've con- 
sented.' 

' I am sure I am very glad indeed to hear it,' said 
Cassilis heartily ; ' I congratulate you both.' 

* Thank you, sir. An' that reminds me, sir, to tell 
you I have a little parcel here that I thought maybe 
yo'd like to take.' 

They were standing in the old-fashioned parlour, 
and June, turning to a cupboard in the wall, took out 



A Study of Remorse 155 

something wrapped in brown paper. Its outline 
seemed vaguely familiar to Cassilis. 

'What is it?' he asked. 

' Th' little machine, sir, that Mr. Thorold was always 
making.' 

He stepped back with a quick gesture of abhor- 
rence : ' I have no use for it.' 

June did not see the gesture. She was unwrap- 
ping the brown paper. 

* No, I suppose not, sir,' she replied, ' but Mr. 
Thorold used to say there wur money in it, an' I 
thought yo' might be able to send it to his family. He 
had a little girl, you know, sir. He often used to talk 
of her.' 

' Why was it not taken away at the time ? ' 

* I forgot it, sir. I'd put it in the cupboard lest 
it should get broken, and what with th' inquest, an' my 
husband being took up an' a', I never gave a thought 
to it till I wur looking round afore leaving th' house. 
I couldna recollect th' name o' th' place i' Lincolnshire 
where Mr. Thorold wur buried, so I took th' machine 
an' kept it by me, thinking some day I might meet 
Mr. Thorold's friends an' give it to them. But of 
course yo'll be better able to find them than me, sir.' 

* I cannot find them,' said Cassilis. 
June looked disappointed. 

' I'd like to be rid of it now,' she said gently. 
* Poor Mr. Thorold set such store by it that I wur 
bound to keep it safe ; an' when I found you wur 
here, sir, I put it i' paper ready, thinking yo'd maybe 
know where to send it.' 

* I have no idea where Mr. Thorold's friends lived. 



156' Quality Corner 

I only met him in Bramsall. He spoke of leaving 
his motherless child with relatives in Lincolnshire, but 
he never mentioned either their names or the name of 
the place.' 

' I wish as I could remember th' village where he 
wur buried,' said June ; ' being that moithered at th' 
time, I didna heed. I wur telling Mr. Gresty how 
yo'd been main good to me when my husband wur 
spending a' an' carrying on. I didna speak o' Mr. 
Thorold, though he were as good to me as yoursen, 
sir. But as I wur saying to yo', I didna care to be 
talking o' that time more'n I could help, an' so/ look- 
ing rather wistfully at the parcel on the table, * I'd 
like to be rid on't.' A rush of remorseful feeling swept 
over Cassilis. She would like to be rid of it — and 
so would he — so would he ! Yet had the dead man no 
claim upon him ? 

' I will take it,' he said suddenly. * I can but keep 
it as you have done. Try to remember the name of the 
village, and I will send it there.' 

' Thank yo', sir,' June's pleasant voice had a ring 
of relief. ' I will surely do my best to remember.' 
She paused a moment, then added, * Mr. Rudell would 
know, sir, th' Mr. Rudell yo' said wur living here 
i' th' town, if he's th' same gentleman as I saw at the 
inquest. His name isna common, an' he might be th' 
same.' 

' Yes,' assented Cassilis, taking up the parcel, ' he 
might be the same. And when are you and Gresty to 
be married ? ' 

' Well, sir, seeing there's nothing to wait fur, we 
thought o' next week.' 



A Study of Remorse 157 

' Gresty is a lucky man. I shall tell him so when 
I see him.' 

June smiled happily. ' 'Tis a peaceful home,' she 
said as she lifted the old-fashioned latch for Cassilis 
to pass out, ' an' I wur always one for peace, you 
know, sir.' 

' Yes,' he replied, ' I too love peace.' 

Then he went away up the hill under the blowing 
pearl-grey clouds, the strong soft wind sweeping past 
him, over him, through him — every leaf and branch 
and blade of grass blowing eastward too, beneath the 
steady pressure of that invisible hand. The trees, 
the tall bracken, not wrestling with the gale but bend- 
ing before it — each leaf turning its pale underside 
to the breath that blew, and quivering like the water- 
weeds in a swift stream. Like the rushing of water 
too was the song of the wind that filled the air — a 
primaeval sound that fell harmlessly, pleasantly, de- 
spite its volume, on the ear as the roar of the sum- 
mer sea. 

This moist rushing wind swept Cassilis's thoughts 
along with it. Was he not also swept onward by a re- 
sistless wind of fate. Here in this place of green peace, 
wrought as it were by the magic of water, a place 
of grey cloud, soft shadow of blue mist, and cool 
wet mossiness — a place of dusk and dreams. What 
goblin mockery was it that here he should find — not 
clear dark-flowing Lethe, but the terrible waters of 
Eunoe the memory-bringer. 

He walked swiftly, his spirit burdened by this risen 
thing as the herbage was bent by the wind. Was it 
for this he had come to Ringway? Oh, of course, 



1.58 Quality Corner 

were he either a better or a worse man he would not 
feel thus troubled by that which he carried. A better 
man would seek out those to whom it rightfully be- 
longed, and take his chance of the result. A worse 
would simply drop it into Outwood Mere. 

Here Cassilis looked back at the far-shining end 
of the mere, just visible from where he stoood on the 
hillside. The grey pearliness of the day seemed to 
accentuate its glitter; it was the one point of light in 
the cloud-shadowed landscape. Was that still water 
Lethe or Eunoe? His thoughts rushed on. No, he 
could not do that. He knew himself incapable of that 
act of common sense — of treachery. It would be a 
second Judas deed. One was enough for a man's 
lifetime. No, his first holiday must be to Bramsall. 
Possibly there he could get some old newspapers that 
would tell him the forgotten address. Consult Ru- 
dell? — never. He was not likely to be the same man. 
And if he were? Oh, it was natural for June Heald, 
in her simple integrity, to propose such a course, but 
how could he, Cassilis, explain his leaving Bramsall 
on that fatal night? That was a step impossible of 
explanation. True, he had returned — too late. 

Here a wave of angry bitterness passed over his 
mind. To succeed in life a man should be consistent; 
he should be that stupendous product of civilisation, 
a thoroughly reasonable being; doing just so much 
evil as will smooth his own path, yet not enough to 
startle his neighbours ; only enough to give them a com- 
fortable fellow-feeling in his presence. But to do evil 
and repent thereof, what fatal inconsistency — involv- 
ing such erratic action as must needs tangle one's 
thread of life. 



A Study of Remorse 159 

He reached the top of the hill, passed the woods, 
and saw before him the road winding down into 
Ringway. Eddies of grey dust rose up here and 
there and whirled fantastically; then fell again into 
scattered atoms to be trodden underfoot. Cassilis 
looked at them as he passed on with his peculiarly 
light elastic step. What were men but eddies of grey 
dust raised up by the Breath of Life, whirling fan- 
tastically for a little space, falling into scattered atoms 
again when the Breath forsook them ? And with what 
wild gyrations those same eddies danced and twirled! 
Well, he was not yet weary of his own gyrations 
along the road of this present life, not since they had 
led him to Quality Corner. He could see the four tall 
old houses now, and beyond them the market-place, 
and all was pleasant in his eyes. Already Ringway 
was ' home.' 

He mentally summed up his position. The sudden 
resurrection of his dead friend's handiwork, that little 
model, had startled him for the time. That was all. 
As soon as he could get away he would go to Bramsall. 
Meanwhile there was his life here, there was Quality 
Corner. His thoughts turned to Basset. Cassilis felt 
that the kindly eccentric gentleman would believe his 
story. Others would not. Why should they? His 
journey that night was a mistake not to be remedied. 
George Occleston ? Yes, he might believe. Both he 
and ^^asset were independent spirits ; judging, weigh- 
ing for themselves. But the position of a man vaguely 
suspected of a crime, whether he has friends or not, is 
very different to the position of a man who has never 
been suspected of anything. He, James Cassilis, poor 
and unknown, yet gifted and of good reputation. 



i6o Quality Corner 

might dream of Basset's adopted daughter. Whereas 
James Cassilis, poor and unknown, with an incident 
in his past that he could not explain in any reasonable 
manner, would stand in worse case than ever he had 
stood in all his wandering years. 

Till now the past had never risen against him ; not 
till now, when youth and hope once more asserted 
themselves. After all, he was but thirty-six. Now, 
when life seemed too precious to waste in useless re- 
morse ; when home, friends, fortune, love, shone not 
quite out of reach ; here and now the past loomed 
suddenly, a threatening shadow, between him and that 
fair promise of dawn. 

Yet many shadows drift harmlessly away. The 
danger was not from June, but from Parfitt, whose 
memory might at any moment recall the night when 
he had strolled along the murky canal-bordered street 
in Bramsall. On the other hand, if Parfitt should 
finish his work in Wofifendale before he recollected 
the incident, Cassilis might feel secure. Mark so 
thoroughly hated Ringway that he was most unlikely 
to visit the town again; he could meet his sister else- 
where. This was the critical time. Perhaps June 
Heald's presence in the neighbourhood complicated 
matters a little. If Rudell were the lawyer she had 
seen in Bramsall he might remember her, and in speak- 
ing of the past might hear from Gresty that Cassilis 
had lodged at her house. However, by itself that was 
nothing. Parfitt's possible recognition of him was the 
real danger, and instinctively Cassilis knew that the 
artist would believe him innocent, yet seek to prove 
him guilty ; an attitude not uncommon among mankind. 

The dust eddies whirled and fell and rose asrain, 



A Study of Remorse i6i 

the strong nor'-wester swept on, fresh from the sea 
and the sandhills, and in its salt exhilarating breath 
Cassilis regained the feeling of elevation that had 
warmed his veins since his first night in Ringway. 
He told himself he cared little for Mark Parfitt's 
hostility. Indeed, he was not sure that he cared at 
all; and it was with a glow at his heart that he ran 
up the steps of his own house. In his consulting- 
room was a cupboard built in the wall after the 
fashion of old houses. Here, still in its brown-paper 
wrappings, he placed the model, and turned the 
key. The thing could wait; it had waited so long 
already. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

QUALITY CORNER had gone on a holiday. It 
usually scattered itself from the middle of July 
till the second week in August. Basset and Thea went 
to Ireland, Parfitt and the Rudells abroad, while 
Emily Darnton joined the Out wood Occlestons and 
Anthony in wanderings about Cornwall. Thus Cas- 
silis and Emily's old dog, of whom he had taken 
charge in neighbourly fashion, had the Corner to them- 
selves. 

' Come with us,' Basset had urged, * I will ensure 
you a welcome. I have a dozen cousins there.' 

But Cassilis had replied that he was not yet on 
sufficiently familiar terms with Ringway to take the 
liberty of a holiday. So he remained, and was re- 
warded by gaining several new patients, and by hear- 
ing rather more than usual of the cheerful homely 
gossip of the market-place. Just now public opinion 
was chiefly occupied with Farmer Gresty's approach- 
ing marriage to June Heald, which met with general 
approval. 

' O' course theer's noan brass in it,' observed old 
Sol Ingers, addressing a group of his cronies from his 
doorstep, ' but Gresty being one o' them chaps az 
conna do wi'out summat to look at, I dunnot see as 
he could do better. Mrs. Heald's comely enow, an' 

162 



A Study of Remorse 163 

a reasonable age fur Gresty, an' hoo's done well by 
til' little uns an' th' house. Taking it a' round, 'tis 
sensible enow, an' Gresty's i' luck to get her.' 

' Th' match is o' my making,' said farmer Stretton 
with pride, ' an' so my missis an' I have settled to go 
to church wi' em. It wur me as found th' bride an' 
it'll be me as'll give her away. 

' A widow-woman dunnot want a mon to give her 
away,' said a bystander who was faintly jealous of 
Stretton's glory. 

' What dost tha know about it ? Tha never wur 
wed at a' ! ' retorted Stretton scornfully. And the by- 
stander was put to silence. 

But June Heald's perverse fate did not permit her 
thread of life to run less smoothly. One warm after- 
noon a week later, farmer Stretton entered his own 
comfortable kitchen and seated himself at table with 
an air of regretful abstraction, swallowed a cup of 
scalding tea with a gulp and a sigh, and remarked 
sententiously : 

* Theer's a mort o' trouble i' this world ! ' 
'Would tha like it better i' th' next?' asked his 

wife. ' Thee men seem alius to be set on saving 
trouble fur theesen i' another life. I'd rather take my 
share i' this.' 

Stretton sighed again, and pensively helped him- 
self to buttered toast. 

* Eh, Sarah, tha'd ha' been sorry fur Gresty if tha'd 
seen him.' 

' Gresty ! ' echoed Mrs. Stretton, her curiosity in- 
stantly on the alert, ' what's wrong wi' him? He's to 
be wed to-morrow.' 

* Nay, he isna,' mysteriously. 



164 Quality Corner 

Mrs. Stretton eyed her husband with contemptuous 
impatience. 

' Out wi' it ! ' she said. ' He's i' th' lockups, I'll 
warrant. What's he been doing?' 

' It's noan lockups, an' he's doing nowt either. 
'Tis th' parson. He says he conna marry Gresty an' 
Mrs. Heald.' 

' Why fur no ? ' in astonishment. 

* Well,' settling himself to tell the tale, ' Gresty 
went up to fix th' toime fur th' wedding, an' parson 
began asking a sight o' questions an' walked down 
to th' farm an' asked Mrs. Heald a sight more; an' 
it came out as Mrs. Heald's husband wur a bad lot 
an' run off to America some seven year back, an' hoo 
never heard more on him. So hoo thowt hersen a 
widow.' 

* An' so hoo is,' commented Mrs. Stretton. 

' Parson dunnot think so. He says hoo ought leave 
th' farm an' live by hersen till hoo hears summat fro' 
America. An' Gresty wants to know what he an' th' 
little uns mun do wi'out her ! ' 

'Is Mrs. Heald going?' 

* Hoo hannot gone yet. It's a' an' upset-like, tha 
sees. Gresty is fur setting up as man an' wife, an' if 
so be as they hear th' chap's dead, they con get wed. 
Seems to me parson had better ha' married 'em and 
ha' done wi' it. Eh, well, theer's bound to be trouble 
wheer theer's a woman.' 

' Who's had th' making o' this trouble I'd like to 
know?' demanded Mrs. Stretton sternly. 'Here's a 
woman wed to a wastrel who runs off an' leaves her 
to shift for hersen ; an' then when hoo wants to settle 
down wi' a quiet chap, in comes a meddling parson 



A Study of Remorse 165 

as conna be content to do his work wi'out asking 
questions ! I reckon a' this trouble is yo' men's doing 
sure enow. If I'd ha' been i' Mrs. Heald's shoes, I'd 
ha' said th' chap wur dead.' 

' Ay, but that mout ha' been a sort o' bigamy,' ob- 
served farmer Stretton reflectively. 

' I dunnot care what it 'ud be. I'd ha' said it,' re- 
sponded his wife. ' An' when tha's done thy tea tha 
con put th' owd white mare i' th' cart.* 

* Art tha going to th' Moss Farm ? ' 
' Ay, I am.' 

' A' reet, I'll go too.' 

About the time that the Strettons were thus dis- 
cussing June's affairs, Cassilis was listening to 
Gresty's indignant comments upon the curate's con- 
duct. 

* Th' parson's nobbut a fool. Thot's what's th' 
matter wi' him. He's one o' them sprung-up chaps 
as is alius meddling. I wish we'd th' owd parson 
back again. He wur a real gentleman, he wur. Yo' 
never found him asking questions. An' he wur a 
good judge o' cattle too. This un knows neither 
man nor beasts. Eh ! it's a noice job a' round.' 

' I was extremely sorry when I heard of it this 
morning,' said Cassilis. 

' Ay, I thowt happen yo'd be sorry, seeing as Mrs. 
Heald tells me yo' wur lodging wi' her an' yon wastrel 
o' a husband.' 

' He was a thoroughly bad lot.' 

' I con well believe it. An' if he isna dead, he 
ought be.' 

They were standing in the home meadow, where 
the mowers were at work. Most of the grass was cut 



1 66 Quality Corner 

and lying in long lines across the field. That yet 
uncut stood tall and fragant, a softly rustling mass, 
with a purple flush over its greenness, and vari- 
coloured shimmerings of rose and gold and silken 
white as the wind swayed its feathery plumes. No- 
where is there so deep a sense of peace and security 
as in these meadows standing ready for the scythe, 
the green billows breaking into iridescent foam of 
flowers. 

And the rest of their restlessness ! There is no 
sound like that long whispering swish of deep ripe 
grass. It is the very breath of sleep — tranquil, pro- 
found : the softest lullaby of the world. Beyond all 
this living opal of the grass of the field spread the 
dusky marshland, ' moss ' in north-country tongue, 
that gave the farm its name. There was summer 
luxuriance here too, but of a darker, fiercer kind. 
Tussocks of rank grass, tall thick rushes by the pools, 
tangles of bracken and willow and hazel, with here 
and there the crimson glow of heather where the 
ground rose higher. The Moss was not nearly so 
large as other tracts of marsh and moor in the neigh- 
bourhood, but it had the same characteristics as they, 
the same uncanny wildness, the same sinister beauty. 
One's eyes instinctively turned to the glittering mere 
curving out from the woods beyond the western verge 
of the Moss. Did the marsh drain into the mere? 
Or was that shining water the cause of those dark 
pools? Or were moss and mere evenly balanced, 
exhaling, distributing the primaeval element to earth 
and air that the wonderful meadows might grow and 
bloom and powder one's sleeve with pollen as one 
passed ? 



A Study of Remorse 167 

Tfiese wandering thoughts, and many others, 
floated through James CassiHs's mind as he Hstened 
to Gresty. It seemed pitiful that June Heald should 
be thus driven from the rest she had found. But fate 
seldom tires of hitting those who are down, reflected 
Cassilis grimly. A darker fancy flitted across his 
spirit. Did that death, Thorold's accidental death — 
yes, it was accidental — throw a shadow of evil over 
those indirectly concerned in it? June's husband, 
June herself, Cassilis ? Then he scofifed at the fantastic 
idea. What had June's husband done? Nothing. 
He was not even in the house at the time. He had 
always been a worthless fellow, and had happily van- 
ished. What had June done? Nothing save conceal 
the fact that Cassilis had been present. Perhaps it 
might be better for him if she left the neighbourhood ; 
but for her? — where else would she find such a home as 
Gresty oflfered? 

Thus thinking and listening, Cassilis watched the 
mowers, the sweeping hiss of the scythes coming to 
the ear with a sharp insistence, above the singing 
whisper of the grass and the more distant sough of 
the trees ; and the long green iridescent billows were 
falling — falling before the steel. 
Gresty followed CassiHs's glance. 
' Ay,' he said, with the Norse poetic feeling, ' seems 
a pity to see th' pretty stuff cut down a' in a minute, 
doan't it? But it's had its day, and that's summut. 
Th' Bible says as th' glory o' man is as th' flower o' 
th' grass, but theer's some folks as willna let yo' ha' 
any glory at a'. They'll cut yo' oflF i' th' green if yo' 
let 'em. I never wur one o' that sort. I'm fur letting 
folks ha' their glory, just what it may be. Some likes 



1 68 Quality Corner 

this, some likes that. Let 'em ha' it, say I. Now 
yon parson, he isna pleased to see th' flower o' any 
man's glory, be it love, or farming, or learning, or owt 
else. He thinks it mun be topped a bit, loike yo' top 
broad beans fur fear o' blight. But th' Lord didna 
liken folk to th' beans. He likened 'em to th' grass 
o' th' field as never needs topping. It's queer to me 
as parson conna see that. But theer! he knows nowt 
about owt, as I said afore.' 

' I am afraid,' said Cassilis, ' he could hardly act 
differently in this matter.' 

' Oh, I'm noan blaming him fur saying he couldna 
marry us when he couldna tell if yon wastrel wur 
dead or no. But what call had he fur to ask about 
him? Mrs. Heald wurna thinking o' th' chap one 
way or another. An' I wur taking fur granted that 
he wur dead. Why couldna th' parson take it fur 
granted too? A gentleman doesna moither his 
neighbours wi' asking questions. He wouldna de- 
mean hissen to ferret about loike this new chap. It's 
nowt but love o' worriting folks, that's what's th.' 
matter wi' him. Will yo' go in an' see Mrs. Heald, 
sir? Hoo's that moithered wi' th' parson's chunner- 
ing, hoo's a'most ready to think hoo mun go out i' th' 
world again. An' what's to become o' me an 'th' 
little uns ? ' finished Gresty pathetically. 

' I should certainly advise Mrs. Heald to remain 
here, both for her own sake and that of your house- 
hold.' 

' Then will yo' go in an' tell her so, sir ? ' this in a 
tone of hopeful relief. * Happen hoo'll heed what yo' 
say. It'll help fur to drive th' parson's notions out o' 
her head. Hoo's doing a bit o' sewing in th' porch.' 



A Study of Remorse 169 

The porch was a pleasant place on a summer after- 
noon, and June Heald was a pleasant sight as she 
sat there. She rose and greeted Cassilis with her 
usual serenity, but her cheerfulness was plainly an 
effort, and after the first few words she spoke of her 
frustrated marriage. 

' But 'tis parson saying I mun leave th' farm that 
worrits me most,' she finished simply. 

' Do not leave it, Mrs. Heald,' said Cassilis. ' You 
are content here, and the world is a hard place. I 
have been thinking that possibly your husband may 
be dead. Would you like enquiries made ? I am a poor 
man still,' he smiled, ' but not quite so poor as I 
was when I lodged with you. I could spare a few 
pounds.' 

But this offer June refused with energy. 

' No, sir, thank you. I dunnot want ever to hear 
owt o' Stanham, good or bad, living or dead. I dunnot 
want him to find me. He spoilt my life when I wur 
young, but he shallna spoil it when I'm owd. I willna 
make enquiries. I towd th' parson so, an' I amna one 
to change my mind. I belong to these parts. He 
doesna. An' Stanham didna either.' 

In her words, as in her soul, was the subtle an- 
tagonism of race, only vaguely known to herself, for 
she spoke merely of the few miles of country that 
encircled her youth. Her underlying idea was that 
she owed no allegiance to a man not of her own 
people, not of the North ; and who, moreover, had 
failed to keep his part of the covenant. A dim thought 
this, but the instinctive, determined, and contemptuous 
recoil that produced it was linked directly with the 
far past, when June's Norse forbears trampled down 



lyo Quality Corner 

the Saxon. There is no getting over the radical in- 
stinct. It may remain in abeyance for years, but 
sooner or later it surges upward like a heavy wave, 
and the human being swings back to the ancestral 
strain which is the strongest in him, be it Norse or 
Roman, Saxon or Celt, noble or churl, freeman or 
slave. And where the race is strong, argument is use- 
less, for you argue, not with the individual, but with 
the whole race. 

Cassilis understood perfectly, and therefore said no 
more concerning the missing Stanham. It was this 
gift of sympathetic comprehension that had always 
won him friends, both now and in the past. He re- 
turned to the question of June remaining at the 
farm. 

' Well, Mrs. Heald, I strongly advise you to stay 
here. Circumstances may change and enable you and 
Gresty to marry. In any case, do not act hastily, and 
do not go without seeing me. I might be able to do 
something.' 

' Thank you, sir. I'll tell you if I leave. 'Tis in my 
mind to stay, if th' folks dunnot throw it up against 
me. I couldna put up wi' ill-feeling i' th' place, an' I 
shouldna like to set Gresty by th' ears wi' his neigh- 
bours.' 

' I feel sure the neighbours will wish you to stay, 
and I think I see two of them coming to see you 
now.' 

June's face brightened as she saw Stretton's old 
white mare turn the corner by the wood, with the 
farmer and his wife sitting behind in the cart; and 
Cassilis took his leave, tolerably certain that Gresty and 
his ' young uns ' would not be forsaken. 



A Study of Remorse 171 

Yet the situation had its awkwardness. He ac- 
knowledged this to himself as he walked on. And of 
course he had given the advice most harmful to him- 
self. Was it best for June Heald? It seemed so to 
him. For a woman to be wandering about the world 
was a miserable thing. Probably she would end in 
accepting a home far inferior to the Moss Farm. 
Here was best for her. 

Meanwhile, Mrs. Stretton was conferring with June 
Heald in the farm parlour, and Stretton himself sought 
out Gresty in the meadow. 

* Good haying weather ! ' he observed by way of 
beginning the conversation. ' I've browt th' missis to 
see Mrs. Heald,' with a jerk of his thumb towards the 
homestead. 

' Thank ye both fur coming,' responded Gresty 
mournfully. 

For a few moments there was silence. Then Stretton 
heaved a sigh and remarked: 

' I dunnot know when owt upset me as much as a' 
this doment wi' parson an' a'. It's worse nor swine 
fever i' th' place.' 

' Nay,' said Gresty, ' I conna hold wi' that. Theer's 
ways o' getting o'er this, but theer's no ways o' getting 
o'er swine fever as I know on. Not but what it's bad 
enow ! ' he added. 

' Well,' after a pause, ' hast tha thowt o' asking 
Basset's opinion ? He's thy landlord, an' he isna a bad 
sort, an' sharp too.' 

' Ay, he is. I ne'er thowt o' going to him. An' he's 
away.' 

' He'll be back fur th' Twelfth. A' Quality Corner 
comes back for th' Outwood supper.' 



IJ1 Quality Corner 

Gresty nodded. * I know. I'll up an' tell him a' 
about it.' 

The idea proved so cheering that both men fell to 
talking of barns and shippons and many things, and 
the time passed to the swish of the mowers' scythes till 
the lengthening shadows warned Stretton of the hour. 

' I mun be setting towards whoam,' he observed, 
' though I'll warrant th' missis hasna said more'n half 
her say yet. It fair beats me how women'll talk ! ' 

And this in the face of the fact that he and Gresty 
had that moment finished a gossip of more than two 
hours ! Verily the heart of man is deceitful above all 
things. 

In the farm parlour Mrs. Stretton was expressing 
a similar opinion of her husband. 

' If I dunnot fetch him up he'll chunner till mid- 
neet, an' forget a' about th' mare an' me. But theer, 
when it comes to talking, there's nowt to choose be- 
twixt one mon an' another. They're a' alike i' that. 
Yo' never see a gate-post wi'out a mon leaning agen 
it, an' another mon hanging o'er the gate telling him 
th' news.' 

* I'm main obliged to yo' fur coming,' said June 
' When one doesna know what's best to do, it's a 
comfort to ha' someone to talk to. I mun think it 
o'er afore parson cooms again,' she added with a 
sigh. 

' Woman,' said Mrs. Stretton emphatically, using 
the word in friendly north-country fashion, ' if I wur 
thee I'd stay wheer I wur, an' let parson chunner. 
He's nobbut young, an' he's never had to shift fur 
hissen, an' he isna a woman, an' them three things 
make a sight o' difference.' 



CHAPTER XIX 

DURING the next three weeks the situation at the 
Moss Farm was the chief topic of interest in 
Ringway. The market-place discussed it from every 
possible point of view. At the farm life went on as 
usual, June ruling the household with old Martha as 
lieutenant. 

About twice a week Gresty joined the perennial 
group of gossipers round Sol Ingers' doorstep, his 
presence adding to the general interest. 

* I've made up my moind to see what Basset says 
to it a',' he announced each time that he appeared 
' an' I'll abide by what he says, if so be as it seems to 
me reasonable-loike.' 

Which is an eminently judicious position to take up 
in the face of advice, admitting of advance or retreat 
as may be convenient. 

' I conna see how Basset '11 fettle it,' observed a 
bystander one day. ' He conna make th' parson 
marry 'em if he willna. But o' course th' parson's 
nobbut a fool, as Gresty says. He ought marry 'em 
an' say no more about it. If a wastrel runs off 
to America an' willna coom back, he's as good as 
dead.' 

This speech met with universal assent. Old Sol, 
standing on the top step, slowly took a large pinch 
of snuff out of the historical box, and holding the 
powder between his finger and thumb, said impres- 
sively : 

173 



174 Quality Corner 

' Parson's reet.' He then applied the snuff to his 
nose, and after a pause of enjoyment, added with 
equal emphasis : ' An' so are we ! ' 

' Eh, but yo' conna both be reet,' said another 
Hstener. 

Sol regarded the speaker with tolerant disdain. 

' Lad, if so be as tha lives seventy years, an' th' Lord 
grants thee more sense than tha's getten now, tha'll 
know that folks con say opposite things an' yet both 
be reet. That's one o' th' ways o' this world that 
a mon learns just when he's getting ready to go out 
on't.' 

So passed the green and grey days, with blowing 
winds from the sea, and soft showers, and gleams of 
sunshine, and this was summer in Ringway. 

The second week of August brought the wanderers 
back to Quality Corner. Emily Darnton was the first 
to return. She drove up one afternoon with the Out- 
wood Occlestons in their ■ family omnibus, and re- 
ceived an excited welcome from her old dog. 

' You have taken good care of Ponto, and I am 
duly grateful,' she said as Cassilis came out to greet 
them all. 

* It seems very unfair that Dr. Cassilis should stay 
at home taking care of a dog while we have all been 
enjoying ourselves ; ' this from Mrs. Occleston. 

* I shall begin to enjoy myself now my neighbours 
are returning,' he replied. 

' I should like to know how my particular neigh- 
bour has been enjoying himself,' said Occleston. 
' How has he been passing the time? — Pugh, I mean. 
Poisoning my pheasants? Or giving socialistic tracts 
to my keepers? Or writing letters in the county 



A Study of Remorse 175 

papers to prove me a bloated ruffian, and that preserv- 
ing game is rather worse than burglary and mur- 
der?' 

' None of these things. His rheumatism has kept 
him busy.' 

' Well, I'm sorry for the poor chap if he is screwed 
up with rheumatism. I have felt so amiable lately 
that I have thought once or twice of asking him to 
the grouse supper. It seems uncivil to hold a festival 
and not to invite the fellow at one's gates.' 

* He would probably accept,' said Cassilis, ' but he 
is still in bed and not likely to get out at present. ' 

' I'd send him a brace of birds if he would eat them, 
but when I sent them last year he solemnly buried 
them in his garden as a protest ! Well, we must be 
going. See you all on Saturday.' 

And the omnibus lumbered off up the road, Mrs. 
Occleston and the boys waving farewell. 

Cassilis turned to Emily. 

' Now what can I do for you ? ' 

* Nothing, thank you,' she replied gaily. ' My mod- 
est luggage is already indoors, and I told the servants 
to have something in the house.' 

' " Something " is a little vague. My dinner is on 
the point of being served. It is a small bird, just 
large enough for two. Would it be very improper if 
I invited you to dine with me ? ' 

' I am afraid it would. What a pity ! ' 

' I have been told that Ringway is Fairyland. 
Can it be possible that Mrs. Grundy exists in Fairy- 
land?' 

' Oh, Dr. Cassilis, she exists everywhere.' 

' How would it do if we had the dinner-table brousfht 



176 Quality Corner 

out into the road here, so that everyone might observe 
our innocent feasting ? ' 

Emily laughed. ' Think of the dust blowing over 
the bird — so gritty ! ' 

' True. Then I have another idea. I believe a 
consulting room is universally acknowledged to be 
beyond reproach. Shall we dine in my consulting 
room? I could prescribe half the bird, you know, 
and eat the other half myself by way of proving the 
harmlessness of the dose.' 

* You are most kind, but ' 

' I see you hesitate. Well, I will send my whole 
dinner into your house, and perhaps you will throw 
me the scraps when you have finished.' 

' Oh no, I could not possibly so spoil your dinner. 
Thank you all the same. I really could not be so 
greedy.' 

* Then how ? ' Cassilis left the sentence un- 
finished, for at that moment Thea and Basset turned 
into the Corner. 

' I thought you two were still away ! ' exclaimed 
Emily. 

' We are just walking up from the station,' replied 
Thea. 

' Hearing terrible scandals by the way,' put in 
Basset. ' Old Sol buttonholed us as we passed the 
market-place.' 

' Can old Sol be the Mrs. Grundy of whom Miss 
Darnton stands in fear?' suggested Cassilis. 'She, 
like yourselves, has just arrived, and I have vainly 
tried to persuade her to dine with me. Finally I 
proposed to send her my dinner on condition that 



A Study of Remorse 177 

she left me a few scraps. At that point of our dis- 
cussion you came up.' 

' Dine with me, both of you,' said Basset decisively. 
' Dinner in an hour.' 

Thus the pleasant life recommenced ; the mingled 
atmosphere of friendliness, culture, irresponsibility and 
comfort that made Basset's house so attractive ; and 
the solitary man's heart was light as the blowing dust 
when again he stood in the familiar drawing-room, 
with its flickering wood fire that brightened as the 
August twilight fell. 

* The air is full of mignonette,' he said as he en- 
tered. * Does it come from the garden, or is it here? ' 

' Both,' replied Thea. * Emily and I have filled all 
the bowls and glasses. It is our home-coming perfume. 
To-night you will dine with mignonette and ship-logs, 
a kind of sea and land entertainment.' 

She was standing near the long window opening 
into the verandah and the dark rustling garden, and 
the light behind her was dim and blue. Through the 
opposite window came the dying red of the sunset, 
and little wavering violet flames shot up from the 
burning logs. In the dusky room these crossing lights 
gave an air of unreality to the slender graceful figure, 
the filmy grey draperies, the brown coils of hair, 
all shadowy, undefined, only the sparkle of a jewel 
here and there, and the deeper brilliance of the dark 
eyes. 

Cassilis looked, and his first thought of her came 
back to him. Yes, she gave the idea of a Dryad. 
There seemed no incongruity in the fancy that she 
might melt into the twilight, taking shape again as 



lyS ' Quality Corner 

rustling leaf and smooth shining stem. Or as he 
remembered her on the hillside at midnight, a dim 
shadow with starry eyes in the midst of shadows, an 
almost invisible presence in the dewy gloom, with the 
Scorpion's star- jewels blazing above the woods. All 
the glamour of her presence rushed over him afresh, 
the reckless exhilaration that she inspired. What 
was the past to him? — or all the entangling net that 
seemed to be round his feet? He cared for nothing 
save that subtle charm that was so peculiarly Thea's ; 
the impression of transience, of dew, of changing 
light and shadow, of something just beyond reach 
and therefore the more desired. The eternal per- 
versity of human nature ! Why could he not choose 
Emily Darnton. She would make him an excellent 
wife ; good-looking, pleasant, clever, suitable in every 
way. But Cassilis turned instinctively, as he had done 
ten years before, to that inspiring joyousness which 
made him forget his troubles, to the airy brightness 
that lifted him above his forebodings, that restored to 
him in a measure the happy expectancy which the 
starving years destroy: — all this he had once found 
in his dead friend's companionship, and had lost ; and 
now that such companionship again beckoned, what 
wonder that he followed? 

He strove to check the turmoil of his brain ; to 
listen to what Basset was saying. 

' Mignonette I consider the scent of home, of 
serenity, of the country. It will not flourish in towns, 
it needs sun and dew. It has neither colour nor form 
to attract the eye ; but is simply an exquisite perfume 
of grey old gardens, calming and refreshing.' 



A Study of Remorse 179 

' Together with the fire,' said Emily. * What is 
more calming than a fire? I always welcome Sep- 
tember, because then one can pretend it is winter.' 

' Why pretend it is winter ? ' asked Thea. ' Why 
not have the courage of your convictions and light a 
fire when you wish for one, as we do? The fire- 
worshipper is the free man. He who shivers before 
an empty grate is a slave to prejudice and penny 
almanacs.' 

' I always buy a threepenny one,' said Cassilis. 

' That is worse ! Two-pennyworth more of prej- 
udice,' she rejoined laughing. 

Here a servant came in with a message for Basset. 

' Mr. Eade wishes to see me,' he said, rising. Mr. 
Eade was the senior curate in whose charge Ringway 
had been placed by its absent vicar. ' If he stays 
more than a few minutes I shall ask him to dine with 
us. Anything is better than keeping dinner waiting. 
I have invited him before, but he has refused. He 
does not wholly approve of me — an unreasonable atti- 
tude on his part, for I am a most orthodox Church- 
man. He prefers Galloway, and often dines there ; 
probably because the food is so terrible and the col- 
ouring of the rooms penitential. I do not know why 
bad dinners and aggressively-coloured walls should be 
regarded as proofs of true religion ? ' 

' They are mortifications of body and soul,' sug- 
gested Thea. 

' And is that true religion ? ' 

' Oh, Daddy, don't stand here asking riddles, but 
go and see Mr. Eade. Dinner will be ready in ten 
minutes,' 



i8o Quality Corner 

Basset walked towards the door. ' Have you ever 
met him, Cassilis ? ' 

' Eade ? Oh yes. At patients' bedsides. I agree 
with him very well.' 

' Do you ? ' Basset stopped, evidently impressed. 
' How do you manage it ? ' 

' Oh, I never contradict.* 

* Ah,' Basset started towards the door again. 
' There are times, my dear Cassilis, when contradic- 
tion is inevitable, and I have a conviction that this is 
going to be one of the tim.es.' 

It was once remarked of an eminent statesman that 
he was a good man in the worst sense of the term. 
Perhaps the same observation might apply equally 
well to the Reverend Philip Eade, for he was one of 
those good men who are the despair of the wise. 
Nature having denied him every quality necessary in 
a ruler, he naturally aspired to be one ; and the capers 
he joyfully cut when dressed in his little brief authority 
not only made the angels weep, but exasperated his 
fellow men, which was worse. 

The position of a senior curate whose vicar is abroad 
is usually an enviable one ; he can make himself such 
a stupendous nuisance if he feels so inclined. In Ring- 
way, however, there is a restraining force not less 
strong because at first unfelt. The quietude of the 
stream of life here was deceptive; in it were unsus- 
pected currents against which no man could pull. 
Philip Eade had previously lived in a southern cathe- 
dral city, where life was as a brawling brook, clear, 
shallow, tinkling. Therefore he set out gaily on the 
slow tide of Ringway, deeming it but a sluggish canal. 



A Study of Remorse i8i 

Presently he became aware of an opposing current. 
Nobody said anything, nobody did anything. His 
various sacerdotal experiments met with no resistance 
save that subtle resistance which is not to be resisted, 
the resistance of race. He felt he made little or no 
impression on the place. The stream flowed on and 
carried him with it despite his efforts. 

Now power is the one thing most desired by all 
mankind; it appeals alike to age and youth, to saint 
and sinner. He who is too young or too saintly to 
clutch at gold, too old or too dull for love, will grasp 
at power. The senior curate ardently desired to rule, 
and this desire neutralised such good qualities as he 
possessed. Failing to understand the people, he dis- 
liked them, and imagined many slights where none 
had been intended ; notably in the instance of Stret- 
ton sending for him to offer up a prayer for the cows. 
Indeed the Reverend Philip had never forgotten that 
occurrence. It rankled in his mind at intervals, 
giving him a feeling of distrust towards the Ringway 
farmers, and a dim wish to get the better of one of 
them some day. Not that he would have acknowl- 
edged this for a moment, even to himself. He would 
have been shocked at its sinfulness. Yet the wish 
was assuredly there, and swayed him considerably in 
his attitude towards the Moss Farm. In short, 
Stretton had offended him, therefore he would take 
it out of Gresty ! It is curious that people with 
severe consciences have no conscientiousness. They 
will do things that for pure meanness and glaring 
injustice fairly raise the hair of the average sinner, 
and will still remain happily persuaded that they 



i82 Quality Corner 

themselves are the most honourable of mankind. 
Had Stretton's cows never needed prayer, Eade 
would have married June and Gresty without put- 
ting the questions that made that marriage impossible. 
But Stretton had introduced June Heald to the Moss 
Farm, and Stretton and Gresty were old friends ; there- 
fore Eade felt it his duty to make careful inquiries, and 
was rewarded. He told himself, however, that he was 
very sorry. 

So this evening, hearing that Basset had returned 
home, the Reverend Philip resolved to lose no time, 
and now sat in Basset's study, explaining the situa- 
tion. 

' I heard the story in the market-place this after- 
noon,' said Basset when the curate paused. 

Eade looked slightly taken aback. 

' From Gresty ? ' 

' Oh no, old Ingers told me.' 

' That man is a terrible gossip,' vexedly. 

* I fear I am another,' Basset rejoined. ' I am inter- 
ested in my neighbours and tenants, and I was sorry 
to hear there were difficulties in the way of the mar- 
riage, which seemed to me very suitable. Why have 
you come to me in the matter ? ' 

Eade hesitated a moment. 

' I thought that being Gresty 's landlord, you would 
remonstrate with him on the impropriety of the woman 
remaining there.' 

' A pity you did not marry them before you were 
aware that Mrs. Heald was not a widow. Certainly 
it would be awkward if the husband should turn up. 
Husbands have a trick of appearing at inconvenient 
moments. That is why I have remained a bachelor. 



A Study of Remorse 183 

I have always been so afraid of appearing at an incon- 
venient moment. How did you hear that the man was 
Hving ? ' 

' From Mrs. Heald herself when I made further in- 
quiries as to who she was, and how long she had been 
a widow. She stated that she has had no news of him 
since he went to America seven years ago.' 

* Is that all ? Why did you make the inquiries ? ' 

' I thought I ought to know,' replied the curate, un- 
conscious that he thereby ' let in ' his adversary, who 
blandly responded: 

' Ah, there it is ! — the old bait of knowledge. We 
cannot get rid of Eden, our curiosity is rampant as 
ever. We all take a bite out of the apple now and then, 
some of us from the green side, others from the rosy ; 
but we all bite more or less, sooner or later. A trick 
to be regretted, as knowledge really seems to bring a 
deal of trouble in its train, from the stitching of the 
fig-leaves down to too close acquaintance with our 
neighbours' lives.' 

' It is a duty to oppose a bigamous marriage,' re- 
marked Eade with severity. 

' Undoubtedly. But in this case the man is possibly 
dead. Also, in Gresty's class a risk may be run which 
would be too dangerous in ours. I do not see how I 
can interfere. In fact, I would rather not.' 

' But I am told that Gresty meditates getting the 
marriage ceremony performed elsewhere.' 

' A capital idea ! ' responded Basset, smiling. 

' Do you call it moral, Mr. Basset ? ' 

' I am not sure. It will, however, be conducive to 
morals.' 

The curate shook his head. 



184 Quality Corner 

' Allow me to explain,' continued Basset. ' I am 
aware that in this matter I am wrong. I cannot de- 
fend my own attitude. And I fear I am also aware 
that I shall continue in the same indefensible attitude.' 

' That is much to be deplored,' said the curate 
gravely. 

' It is,' Basset agreed. ' This is another instance of 
the extremely annoying nature of evil-doing. Because 
the man Heald behaved badly seven years ago, I now 
feel obliged to encourage Gresty to contract an illegal 
marriage with another man's wife.' 

' I see no obligation to encourage wrongdoing.' 

' Well, if I oppose the idea, Gresty and the woman 
will simply set up housekeeping together without any 
ceremony ; in which case poor Mrs. Heald runs the 
risk of being turned out some day. I do not think 
Gresty would do it, but in these matters no man is 
to be trusted. Whereas he will consider himself 
bound by a ceremony. That it is perhaps an illegal 
one is of no consequence. He will believe in it.' 

' I should feel it my duty to protest.' 

' I hope not. Very likely the man Heald is dead. 
You might therefore be protesting against a perfectly 
legal marriage.' 

This was another view of the case. Eade was silent 
for a moment ; then he said irritably : 

* It seems to me that people behave very badly.' 

* They do,' replied Basset sympathetically, * they 
always do. We all behave badly more or less — so 
those invariably say who try to govern us. And now 
to turn to a more pleasant subject. In my house the 
dinner bell is never rung. I consider the noise bar- 
barous — in fact, scholastic, which is a degree lower 



A Study of Remorse 185 

than barbarism. But the hour tells me that the meal 
is ready. I hope you will join us. Miss Darnton is 
here, and Cassilis ' 

' No, thank you. I have ordered a chop at my lodg- 
ings.' 

Basset shuddered. 

' My dear sir,' he said earnestly, ' a chop is a terrible 
thing unless prepared with the utmost judgment. I 
beg of you to stay and dine with me, and let the chop 
remain what it is now — a vision, not a reality.' 

And rather to his own surprise, the curate accepted 
Basset's invitatioHo 



CHAPTER XX 

THE next day dawned warm and blue, and Quality 
Corner spent the hours in hearing each other's 
adventures and relating their own. Gresty, in his best 
clothes and wearing a hopeful and determined air, pre- 
sented himself at Number Two almost before Basset 
had finished breakfast. 

* I thowt I'd be betimes,' he remarked apologetically 
when Basset came into the study, ' but I didna mean 
fur to disturb folks at their meals. I con wait, Basset.' 

' No, no. I am glad to see you. I think I can guess 
what has brought you here. Old Sol told me some- 
thing of it yesterday.' 

' Ay, did he? Then yo' see how 'tis wi' me an' Mrs. 
Heald an' yon parson,' and Gresty poured out his woes 
and perplexities with evident relief. 

' But I wur saying to owd Sol/ he concluded, ' that 
theer's more churches nor one, an' parsons as dunnot 
spend a' their toime i' asking questions. I've more'n 
half a mind fur to get wed elsewheer, an' Mrs. Heald 
is agreeable, but hoo's feart o' th' parson getting wind 
on't an' bouncing up to forbid th' banns.' 

* Try Woffendale,' suggested Basset. ' No one will 
notice the names there.' 

' Ay, that would do,' replied Gresty reflectively. ' I 
reckon one or other of us mun lodge theer a bit, an' I 
conna leave the farm. It'll ha' to be Mrs. Heald, an' 

1 86 



A Study of Remorse 187 

that's bad enow, wi' nobbut owd jMartha to see to 
things. But happen we could make shift. I'm send- 
ing green-stuff twice a week to th' market theer. I 
could go o'er i' th' carts an' see her. Fur that matter, 
hoo could coom out here by th' train fur th' day. Ay, 
it 'ud do well. Speaking o' names, Mrs. Heald tells 
me th' mon's name wur Stanham.' 

' Stanham ? ' repeated Basset. 

' Ay, Stanham it wur. But seeing he wur a bad lot, 
hoo took her own name again, which wur Heald. Hap- 
pen we'd best put th' name down as Stanham? I towd 
her I'd ask yo' about it.' 

' I think so,' said Basset. ' I will see what Air. Ru- 
dell says and will let you know to-day. By the way, 
what is Mrs. Heald's Christian name? ' 

' " June," ' replied Gresty with pride. ' 'Tis a pretty 
name, and hoo's like it.' 

' It is a pretty name,' Basset agreed. ' I should ad- 
vise you to lose no time, Gresty.' 

' I dunnot mean to. I've loissen toime enow a'ready 
wi' th' worrit on't. I'm much obliged to you'. Basset, 
fur talking it o'er, an' so will Mrs. Heald be. Hoo's 
a good-looking w^oman,' he added as he rose to go. 
* I'd like y' to see her.' 

' 1 will drive down to the farm this afternoon,' said 
Basset. ' Wait a moment.' 

He turned to a writing-table and slipped a bank- 
note into an envelope. 

' Give this to ]\Irs. Heald with my best wishes. It 
will pay expenses and buy her a new gown.' 

' Eh, now, Basset, theer wur no call fur yo' to do 
that. But hoo'll be main pleased, thank yo'.' 

Gresty departed, leaving Basset with the conscious- 



1 88 Quality Corner 

ness of having done a good action which would be 
condemned by all right-minded persons. Rudell was 
one of these same persons. He strolled in later for 
chess, and having heard the story over the game, he 
slowly took a pinch of snuff, remarking with em- 
phasis : 

' Basset, it is clear to me that one of these days I 
shall see you in the dock, and myself running about 
for counsel to defend you.' 

' Well, get the best. I shall not grudge the ex- 
pense.' 

' It is monstrous. The parson is right and you are 
wrong.' 

' Pooh ! The man is most likely dead.' 

' Not he. When a man ought to die, he never does. 
That marriage of Gresty's will probably not be legal.' 

' They will think it is.' 

' I don't see what that has to do with it.' 

' But I do.' 

' One of these days Gresty will find out the illegality 
and throw the woman over.' 

'No, he won't. He has no more belief in the law 
than you have.' 

'I? Why I belong to it.' 

* Therefore you don't believe in it, save for others. 
That is the way we all believe in it.' 

Here Basset moved a pawn, which Rudell captured. 
' I believe in law and order,' said Rudell. 

* Oh, law — ^law. There are things above law.' 
'Above?' 

' Well, beyond law.' 

' Do you consider your advice to Gresty moral ? ' 

' That is what the curate asked me last night/ said 



A Study of Remorse 189 

Basset reflectively, contemplating the chessboard. * I 
am sure I do not know. What is one to do? Some- 
times there really seems nothing for it but to put one's 
morals in one's pocket and go ahead.' 

* For an orthodox Christian, Basset, your sentiments 
are atrocious.' 

Basset sighed and moved his king. 

* It is the wise men who do the most foolish things,' 
Rudell went on. ' Why could you not consult me 
before advising Gresty ? ' 

Basset shook his head. ' To consult others is to 
cramp one's individuality. To preserve one's freedom 
it is necessary to act first and discuss the action after- 
wards.' 

* At the risk of possible repentance?' 

' Why not? If you are afraid of being drowned you 
will never learn to swim.' 

Silence again for awhile. 

' Ah, I have lost,' said Rudell, ' and I do not think 
there is time for another game before lunch. Look 
here, Basset, that Gresty business is a mistake. You 
would do better to be the virtuous landlord and urge 
Gresty to let the woman go and seek her husband, 
which she would probably do.' 

* Impossible ! ' 

' Nothing is impossible, save universal reform. 
Lord! it makes me grin to hear our teachers predict 
the virtuous era that is coming. As if mankind will 
ever be different in the main to what they have ever 
been. The human race is a spinning top, swaying 
from side to side and preserving its equilibrium by that 
same swaying. One generation is sober and vicious, 
the next is drunk and virtuous. One generation be- 



ipo Quality Corner 

lieves in law and order and behaves accordingly. Its 
successor kicks over the traces and howls for all-satis- 
fying anarchy.' 

' Can anarchy be all-satisfying ? ' 

' It cannot. Therefore they howl for it. When did 
men clamour for any reasonable thing ? Mankind have 
cried for the moon ever since it shone in heaven, and 
it is only a dead world after all.' 

' Why, Rudell, you are positively brilliant ! ' 

' Oh, I think a little at times. Just for a change, 
and to keep up my reputation for being old-fashioned.' 

Basset laughed. ' By the way,' he said, ' I told 
Gresty I would ask you whether Mrs. Heald must be 
married in her husband's surname? It seems she 
dropped it and resumed her maiden name.' 

' Considering the marriage is pretty certain to be 
illegal it cannot much matter what name she is mar- 
ried in,' responded the lawyer drily. ' But she had 
better stick to the husband's. What was it ? ' 

' Stanham,' said Basset. 

' Stanham ? ' echoed Rudell ; * and you say she lived 
in Bramsall ! Do you mean to tell me this June Heald 
is June Stanham, of Mill Street ? ' 

' She may not be the same, though I confess the 
name struck me. It is unusual.' 

* I will go down to the farm with you and look at 
her. I should know her.' 

' Well,' Basset spoke reluctantly, ' of course you can 
see her, but I would rather not have that old trouble 
stirred up. We cannot bring poor Thorold back again, 
and why harass the living? She seemed to have done 
her best.' 

' I am not sure of that.' 



A Study of Remorse 191 

' You were satisfied with her evidence.' 
' I am never satisfied with any evidence, but I have 
to accept it if I cannot prove it false. Nobody speaks 
the truth unless by accident.' 

' The evidence was reasonable and probable enough.' 
' Which makes me doubt it. The unreasonable and 
improbable things are those that really happen. For 
instance, what could seem more improbable, than that 
June Stanham should drift here and marry a tenant 
of yours ? ' 

* Leave her in peace,' said Basset. ' She appears to 
have had enough trouble of her own. Do not cross- 
question her again about that old grief of ours. We 
cannot bring Thorold back. I feel as certain now as 
I did ten years ago that it was pure accident. He is 
not the first man who has swallowed the wrong medi- 
cine.' 

' It was not the wrong medicine. It was poison in 
mistake for medicine. How did it get among his 
things ? The woman did not seem to know. I believe 
she did know.' 

* Thorold was rather given to having chemicals 
about.' 

' I don't call prussic acid a chemical. Besides, he 
had just then a fad for inventing some machine or 
other, goodness knows what ! If you had not been 
laid up at the time, Basset, you would not have been 
so easily satisfied that all was right.' 

' Was I easily satisfied ? From your account of the 
matter, it appeared to be an unhappy accident, for 
which no one but Thorold himself was responsible. I 
thought you concurred in the verdict.' 

* " Death by misadventure " — yes, I did in a way. 



192 Quality Corner 

What else could I do But when I have turned the 
affair over in my mind I have doubted the misadven- 
ture. I should like to unravel the mystery.' 

' I see no reason to imagine any mystery. Let the 
past rest.' 

' If it will. My experience is that the past has a 
trick of waking up in the most unexpected manner.' 
Here Rudell took out his snuff-box again. ' Most, 
singular that June Stanham should come to this place. 
Well, I must be going. Nice way of spending the 
morning ! Chess and gossip.' 

* I know no better way of spending a summer morn- 
ing — at our age. It is not profitable to sit grey-haired 
in the sun, remembering the old dreams. But you are 
a married man.' 

' And I shall have the fact impressed upon me if I 
am not back in time for lunch. Where is Cassilis ? ' 

' Do you want him ? He has gone to Outwood for 
the day's shooting.' 

' Whether his patients will let him or no? ' 

' He could be fetched. Anthony is there too.' 

' So is Parfitt. I wish somebody would shoot him 
by accident. I'm sick of him.' 

' Pleasing sentiments towards a brother-in-law ! ' re- 
marked Basset. 

' Because he chances to be my brother-in-law. All 
relationships are more or less annoying, generally 
more. He will be back by five, ready to walk over to 
the supper later.' 

' Cassilis said he should be home by six. I asked 
him to dinner.' 

Rudell eyed his friend sternly. ' Do you mean to 
say, Basset, that you intend to eat a seven o'clock din- 



A Study of Remorse 193 

ner — one of your dinners — by way of preparation for a 
grouse supper at ten ? ' 

' Why not ? But dinner is at six to-night.' 

' Well — er — I wish you would invite me also. My 
wife has ordered a sort of meal called high tea.' 

' Better bring your wife too, and Parfitt with her. 
I believe Thea has asked Emily Darnton, and I rather 
expect Tony Occleston.' 

' You will not drive ? ' 

' Not on such a night as this promises to be.' 

They were standing at Basset's door, looking into 
the hot sunny street, where the grey dust lay thickly. 

' Not a water-cart this morning ! ' growled Rudell. 

' Of course not. They never disturb the harmony 
of things. That is why they only appear after a 
shower.' 

Rudell laughed and descended the steps. 

' Well, good-bye for the present. Thanks for the 
invitation.' 



CHAPTER XXI 

THAT hot Twelfth died in crimson flame behind a 
low bank of purple cloud. Then the red west 
slowly changed through orange to luminous green, in 
which lingered a faint warm stain like wine dropped 
into clear sea-water. By-and-by even this stain faded, 
leaving only that mysterious green light which in its 
far-away shining gives such a curious sense of in- 
finity. 

The light still glimmered in the west when Quality 
Corner collected itself and set off to walk to Outwood 
through the sapphire dusk. The eight went up the 
dim white road in straggling fashion, endeavouring to 
sort themselves to their own satisfaction and their 
neighbours' annoyance. The result, however, only 
pleased one individual, Mark Parfitt, who contrived to 
place himself by Thea's side, and kept the position. 
Emily Darnton, who would have liked Cassilis for a 
companion, found herself talking to Tony Occleston. 
While Cassilis was swept off by Mrs. Rudell, who kept 
well in the rear, together with Basset and Rudell, who 
strolled along discussing various matters on which 
they never agreed. 

The night was one of breathless heat and stillness. 
There was no moon, but the blue overhead was star- 
sown. Cassilis looked towards the south-west. There 
shone the Scorpion's Heart ; redly, angrily ; as it had 
shone on Midsummer Eve when he and Thea Basset 

194 



A Study of Remorse 195 

had gone to gather fern-seed on this same hillside, up 
this same road. Years seemed to have passed since 
then, yet the actual time was but a few weeks. And 
still looking at blazing Antares, he further decided that 
Parfitt's behaviour this evening was intolerable, and 
that on the return journey it should not be permitted. 
Meanwhile the artist, having got a fair start, was en- 
deavouring to make the best of his time. But nature, 
in bestowing on him unlimited vanity, had hopelessly 
handicapped him as a lover. The two passions are 
incompatible. Love and hate, as fire and wind, har- 
monise well enough. A man will kick another fellow 
into a ditch with all the greater energy if the latter 
chances to be a rival ; and will finish up by doing his 
own love-making with vastly increased fervour. But 
love and vanity, as fire and water, cannot co-exist ; one 
©r the other must go. Parfitt's vanity could not go. 
It was ingrain. Now the distinctive efifect of vanity 
on the character is monotony. The mind is fixed on 
the contemplation of the mighty Ego, an excellent atti- 
tude for getting on in the world, but a terribly boring 
one in a companion. Whereas the capacity for being a 
good lover, whether masculine or feminine, includes 
all the infinite variety of life ; the whole personality 
swings like the magnetic needle, true to the one point, 
but also ranging the whole compass of the world ; 
responsive to every touch of feeling, every varying 
mood of nature, or passing phase of circumstance. 

Not being a bom lover, the witchery of that 
summer night had no effect on Mark Parfitt. He 
talked on ; smooth, ready, fairly amusing ; his level 
chilly tones changing not for any influence from 
without, taking no deeper softer ring from dew and 



196 Quality Corner 

stars and the wonderful gloom of the woods. For 
that gloom of the moonless summer night was very- 
wonderful within those woods. As the little com- 
pany passed from the comparative light of the road 
into the vast leafy shadow, the low-lying cloud on 
the western horizon rose higher, arabesques of 
summer lightning playing over its darkness. The 
leafy aisles looked like dim caverns of dark serpen- 
tine or lapis-lazuli, Ht by the sudden flickering 
gleams of the lightning and the faint shining of the 
stars. Scents of moss and peat and wild thyme filled 
the warm air. Now and then the breathless silence 
was broken by soft scurries of some small animal, 
the flutter of a startled bird, and that slow whispering 
sigh that is always heard in woods, no matter how 
still the air. 

' Alive like sound ' — few notice how living is sound ; 
that is, natural sound. There is only one non-natural 
sound that is alive, the violin. All others are dead 
unless the life of the world, the Breath of God — call it 
which you will, it is the same — animates that which 
makes them ; whether creature or leaf, swing of water 
or rush of wind. Without living sound, the earth is 
a vision. Here in the dewy darkness, all might have 
been a dream but for these stirrings of the life hidden 
in the velvet gloom. There are world-sounds so deli- 
cate that save in extreme stillness they cannot be heard 
at all. The well-nigh inaudible flutter of ripening 
growth in the full tide of summer; the tinkling of 
dropping seeds ; the feathery whirr of moths ; the sin- 
gular click of the green dragonfly's wings as he turns 
in his zigzag flight; and in time of snow, the faint 
crackling of dead leaves shrivelling under the fiery 



A Study of Remorse 197 

touch of the frost. These are Earth's heart-beats, and 
you must lie very close to hear them. 

To-night these little eerie sounds that ruffled the 
silence as a breeze ruffles the sea, deepened the curious 
sense of unreality that stole over most of those whose 
feet passed so noiselessly over the soft path of sand or 
moss, fir-needles, or the short elastic turf of the open 
glades. Where were they going? — to Outwood 
through Ringway Woods ? Or were they drifting for 
ever onward through the forest of Broceliande, where 
Merlin lies in unquiet slumber and the leaves whisper 
spells : a dim enchanted world of crouching shadows, 
of fierce unseen life, waiting to take sudden shape and 
form, to spring and vanish, swift as the white light- 
ning that flared now and again through that close roof 
of whispering leaves. Unconsciously the voices 
changed, took somewhat of the velvet of the gloom. 
Conversation ceased to be continuous ; a few words 
seemed enough in that levin-lit darkness. Parfitt alone 
kept up a steady flow of small talk, his clear flat tones 
sounding oddly incongruous. But his perceptions were 
fairly keen, and as he thus talked on he was sensible 
that he would not much longer be able to keep Thea 
by his side. The company showed an inclination to 
draw together, probably with a view to rearranging 
themselves in more congenial fashion. Also, Thea's 
step was lingering and Mark felt that her attention 
was given to him from politeness, not interest. Yet 
he did not think she wished for Cassilis's or Anthony's 
companionship. He had an impression that she was 
pondering some question of which he was wholly ig- 
norant ; an engrossing question too, for there seemed a 
certain tension about her that puzzled him. 



198 Quality Corner 

They were crossing the broad glade where Cassi- 
lis and Thea had taken shelter under the chestnut the 
day he first went to Outwood. Here the dense olive 
shadow of the close-growing trees changed to the 
blue dusk of the starlit open space ; the short turf 
looking dark in the starlight, dim grey when the 
lightning quivered over it. Away to the right was 
the sloping ground down which Cassilis had walked 
blindfolded ; the clump of beeches — he recalled it all 
as he listened to Mr. Rudell's shrill chatter, and 
m.editated how to deprive Parfitt of his companion. 
Before them the wood closed in again ; mysterious 
caverns of lovely blue-green darkness filled with 
flickering glimmers. Here in the open the air had a 
different perfume ; not of moss or resinous fir, but 
that peculiar scent of sun-burnt earth and fern that 
the touch of night releases, a pungent odour that min- 
gles with the wild thyme and mints, and is the breath 
of fullest summer. As they crossed the glade Thea 
stopped and waved her hand towards Antares flaming 
in the southern blue. 

' The Scorpion's Heart beats well up there,' she 
said, addressing the company generally. 

' Trust a Scorpion's Heart to beat well,' responded 
Anthony. ' It is only our poor human hearts that go 
all anyhow.' 

Thea laughed softly. ' How dismal you are, Tony ! ' 
. ' And when I have been doing my best to entertain 
him ! ' protested Emily. 

'Do you find this world so unsatisfactory?' en- 
quired Parfitt with a faint ring of mockery in his cool 
tones. 

' I am not crying for the next, if you mean that,' 



A Study of Remorse 199 

replied Anthony aggressively. * I don't sec the use of 
going to Heaven before you have had all you want here.' 

' How dreadfully greedy ! — to wish for the best of 
both worlds ! ' this from Emily. 

' Well, I'll choose this,' said Tony doggedly, ' and 
chance the next.' 

' That is what most people do, and lose both,' com- 
mented Rudell. 

Here Basset interposed. ' How do you know ? 
Eight out of every ten of us lose this world ; but your 
assertion respecting the next is a statement so wild 
that one would think you were in the witness-box. I 
have always observed,' added Basset dreamily, ' that 
the wildest statements are made in what are humor- 
ously called courts of Justice.' 

Rudell chuckled. ' The witness-box is a useful in- 
stitution,' he remarked. ' Indeed, one may say that law 
is an eminently useful institution. You w'ould be all 
the better for more of it. In fact, I am of opinion 
that I should make an admirable despot.' 

' So far as my memory goes,' said Basset drily, 
' the only lawyer who ever attained to absolute power 
was Robespierre, and he can hardly be considered a 
success.' 

* That's a nasty one,' Rudell obser^^ed medita- 
tively, consoling himself with a pinch of snuff ; ' and 
I don't seem to have an answer ready. Never mind, 
some brilliant response will occur to me by-and-by.' 

During this conversation the little company had 
drawn more closely together, and were walking in a 
straggling cluster. There seemed a chance of casting 
Parfitt into outer darkness and taking his place ; so 
CassiUs, having dexterously got Basset on the other 



200 Quality Corner 

side of Mrs. Rudell, quietly moved away towards Thea, 
His intentions, however, were observed and promptly 
frustrated by Mark's sister. 

' Dr. Cassilis ! Where are you ? ' she cried. ' We 
must have your opinion. Which world do you recom- 
mend? But I am sure you will point us to Heaven.' 

' Your belief is hardly complimentary to my pro- 
fessional skill,' he responded. ' Am I not expected 
to keep people on this earth as long as possible ? ' 

Tony Occleston lifted up his voice again : ' And 
as for losing both by enjoying this, it's downright 
nonsense. For of course by the best of this one 
means the best, not the worst; and to get the best 
one must do one's best. So why should not one have 
both?' 

' The whole question depends on what one regards 
as the best of this world,' said Cassilis. 

' Well, not the loaves and fishes,' said Tony. 

' Do I hear the Corner engaged in a theological dis- 
cussion while on its way to the Grouse Supper ? * 
asked a voice from the shadowy aisles ahead — a mas- 
culine voice, clear, full, and sweet ; half-laughing, half- 
imperious. Cassilis wondered what the owner of that 
voice was like. 

Quality Corner responded by a general chorus of 
greeting, 

' Why, Herries,' said Basset, ' I did not know you 
were home again.' 

' I returned two days ago,' replied the new-comer. 
' This evening I rode over to Outwood and then 
walked on to meet you ; but was fearing you had gone 
by the road, when your voices reached my ear.' 

' Tony was uttering the most terrible sentiments,' 



A Study of Remorse aoi 

said Thea, ' and because in our secret hearts we all 
agreed with him, we were preparing to fall upon and 
rend him. This is the subject of dispute: what is 
the best of this world ? ' 

* I should say there cannot be the smallest difficulty 
in deciding that,' replied Herries. 

A broad gleam of lightning lit the glade, changing 
the olive and sapphire shadows to fierce black, and 
the dusky grass to blurred grey. For a moment every 
face was visible in the white glare. Then it vanished, 
and the deep subtle colouring of the blue summer night 
reappeared in the starlight. 

That brief moment showed the speaker to be a 
young man, perhaps thirty; tall, broad-shouldered, 
rather heavily built; with a general look of activity 
about him. There was also another look about him, 
the indefinite yet unmistakable air of the lover — a buoy- 
ant, hopeful lover. 

The pale electric blaze showed also the disorganised 
condition of the party. Herries' arrival seemed to 
have had the effect of completing the scattering ten- 
dency that had begun when the glade was reached. 
Only he and Thea were side by side ; the others stood 
here and there, widely apart. Emily Damton and 
Rudell looked amused, Anthony troubled, Basset 
pleased, Susette Rudell puzzled and annoyed, while 
Parfitt wore his most supercilious aspect. 

' No difficulty whatever ! ' repeated Herries as the 
soft gloom fell round them once more. Then he and 
Thea seemed to melt into the woodland shadows 
ahead ; the murmur of their voices coming faintly 
back on the warm air. 

It was Basset who next broke the silence : 



202 Quality Corner 

* There may be heaven ; there must be hell ; 
Meantime, there is our earth here. 

We were young once, eh, Rudell ? ' 

' I was never young,' replied Rudell emphatically. 
' Not in your sense.' 

' What is the meaning of all this ? Who is this fel- 
low ? ' Parfitt irritably asked his sister ; subduing his 
voice, however, that the others might not hear. 

' Oh, he lives about twelve miles off, beyond Out- 
wood,' replied Mrs. Rudell in the same subdued tones. 
' He has a nice place, but no money. I thought she had 
refused him. He went off somewhere about four 
months ago.' 

' A pretty fool you have let me make of myself ! ' 

' Not at all. You have just as much chance as he 
has.' 

' I don't think I care to take any more chances. You 
ought to have told me of this Herries in the back- 
ground.' 

' Tony Occleston will hear you.' 

' Let him ! ' said Parfitt, moving away. 

The party had arranged itself anew and followed 
Thea and Herries through the dark aisles. Cassilis 
was walking with Emily Darnton, so Mark joined 
Basset ; while Anthony, depressed in spirit, drifted into 
desultory conversation with Susette Rudell and her 
husband. 

Did Antares wield a malign influence over that walk 
to Outwood? The Scorpion's Heart beating redly in 
the blue brought little peace to the hearts that beat 
along that dusky woodland way. For more than one 
the Scorpion had its sting. 

That sting ran deepest into Cassilis. Yet he felt a 



A Study of Remorse 203 

certain degree of forlorn amusement in the situation, 
for there is sometimes amusement to be got even out 
of one's misfortunes. Never had he dreamt of a 
rival such as Herries. So completely had he settled 
down in the Corner, had become identified with it 
and its interests, that his very recent arrival in Ring- 
way had passed out of his mind. He had uncon- 
sciously imagined he knew all the familiar friends 
who circled round Basset and his adopted daughter. 
Fool that he had been to forget that he himself was a 
stranger but newly welcomed to their pleasant life. 
Here was one who evidently was the friend of years; 
old comradeship spoke in the manner of those who 
greeted Herries' sudden appearance, and in the easy 
way in which Thea walked on with him. Comrade- 
ship? — yes, it might very well be that on her part, 
and nothing else ; the same airy companionship she 
had often given to himself, Cassilis. His thoughts 
whirled round this, that, and the other point while 
he listened to Emily Darnton, who for reasons of her 
own was talking about Herries. 

' We all like him so much. He lives at a place 
called Wandesleys, twelve miles away. A delightful 
old hall with a moat round it, a rusty portcullis that 
is never lowered, and a drawbridge that won't draw ; 
all so nice! He went to Finland in May. It seems 
an interesting country. Have you ever been there, 
Dr. CassiHs ? ' 

' No, never. I am nothing of a traveller.' 
' Perhaps,' reflectively, ' there is something Satanic 
about travelling. " Going to and fro on the earth " 
was an ancient and favourite occupation of the " auld 
Mahoun." ' 



204 Quality Corner 

' I should say that is an excellent reason for good 
Christians to do likewise. Why should Satan enjoy 
himself and his betters mope ? ' 

Emily laughed a little. 

' I can understand sorrowful people travelling,' she 
said, ' but if you are happy, why not stay where you 
are ? ' 

' Does that refer to Mr. Herries ? Did he travel for 
sorrow or joy ? ' 

' Sorrow,' with mock gravity, ' or at least, we all 
thought so. We believed he went to Finland because 
Thea snubbed him.' 

' He appears to have recovered from the snub. Is 
Finland a cure for depression of that kind ? ' 

' I am telling you all the affairs of the Corner ! ' 

' Do I not also belong to the Corner ? ' 

' That is why I tell you. Ah, now we are out of 
the woods,' in a tone of rehef. ' I do not like them 
when they are dark and ghostly and full of poachers. 
This field is more human.' 

* I seem to be always asking questions. Are not 
poachers human ? ' 

' They are very unpleasant. Perhaps you will say 
that is human ? ' 

' The thought crossed my mind. But I under- 
stand your feeling about the woods; a field is not so 
uncanny. Also, we can see the lights in our friend 
Pugh's house ; signs that we are approaching " haunts 
of happy men." ' 

' I should hardly imagine Mr, Pugh a particularly 
happy man.' 

' Why not ? He seems so to me. There is no 
happiness so great as that of believing your neigh- 



A Study of Remorse 205 

hours wicked, and being in a position to watch their 
doings. The hardened saint and the perfect sinner 
are the happy men. It's the bumping up and down 
between those extremes that upsets the average 
human.' 

' I suppose so. Yet I see no reason why such oscilla- 
tion should exist.' 

' Human nature,' responded Cassilis. ' Or what is 
the same thing, free-will bestowed upon a handful of 
dust. What wonder that the dust develops erratic 
action at times.' 

After the gloom of the woods, the starlit field seemed 
wide and light, the oaten stubble having the effect of 
dusky sand, through which the dim little procession 
passed along the narrow path. Then the lane, the 
high road, and that deepest night of the fir plantation, 
with the steel-like gleam of the black water of the 
mere beneath the flickering lightning. 

Cassilis paused a moment as they crossed the 
bridge. 

* I have never seen anything so weird as this end 
of the mere,' he said. ' It seems to possess a sinister 
fascination, a drawing on as it were, like a magnet. 
One thinks of it after one has left it.' 

' Yes, I know what you mean. It is like a bad 
dream. I told Thea so one day, but she did not agree 
with me. She said it had a tragic beauty.' 

' So it has. One wants to hear the tragedy. Has 
the mere a story ? ' 

' Now^ that I know. How cheerful Out wood looks ! ' 
— as they emerged from the plantation shadows and 
saw^ the old house above them, brightly lit and with 
wide-open doors. 



2o6 Quality Corner 

* I thought you people were never coming,' called 
Occleston, appearing in the doorway with his wife 
and several guests. ' Do you know you are ten min- 
utes late ? ' 



CHAPTER XXII 

ON this hot night the long windows of the Out- 
wood dining-room were open and uncurtained, 
so that one looked from the brightness and the lights 
on to the terrace and the glimmering mere below, with 
its dark line of fringing woods and the dim horizon be- 
yond, where the summer lightning flickered on its 
background of cloud. 

The cool moist air coming up from the lake min- 
gled in the room with the fragrance of carnations — 
red and blush, white and salmon-coloured — decking 
the long table. Thea too wore the same flowers at 
her throat, but hers were the old-world deep crim- 
son clove-scented ones, looking darker still against the 
pale yellow of her gown. She sat opposite, between 
Herries and a thin grey-haired man whom Cassilis 
did not know. Except the Quality Corner contingent, 
most of the guests were strange to him, including a 
bland church dignitary whom he presently found to 
be the Bishop of Woffendale. His lordship sat next 
to Mrs. Occleston, talking much and softly, and ap- 
peared to be an adept in the art of not hearing any- 
thing he did not wish to hear. So the conversation 
swept on without let or hindrance. 

' I tell you,' said George Occleston energetically, 
replying to some remark of Rudell's, ' man is bom to 
be kicked as the sparks fly upward ! ' 

207 



ao8 Quality Corner 

Here the Bishop's face twitched, but he made no 
comment, and Occleston continued. 

' It's wholesome for him. If every Home and 
Foreign Secretary had a sound kick administered to 
him on entering office, we should be astonished at the 
result.' 

' I don't doubt that,' said the thin man drily. 

' I mean, it would be a good result. A friendly 
kicking, you know. This sort of thing : " My dear 
fellow, don't make an ass of yourself. Here is a kick 
to help you to silence and common sense." There is 
too much talking. Listen to the perpetual chatter 
everywhere on imperial matters, and contrast it with 
the dignified reticence when the nation was con- 
tending with war abroad and the mutiny at the 
Nore at one and the same time. And why the dif- 
ference? Because a man with a joint of roast mut- 
ton and a bottle of port under his waistcoat felt in- 
clined to hold his tongue and use some genial com- 
mon sense. Nowadays he swallows lemonade, puffs 
a cigarette, and jabbers like my old aunt's parrot, 
and with as much knowledge of his subject as the 
bird ! ' 

* Talking of aunts and parrots,' said a young naval 
lieutenant to Emily Darnton, who sat between him 
and the Bishop, ' I had an awful time with one just 
lately.' 

'With an aunt?' 

* No, with a parrot. Oh, and with the aunt too, 
in the endo' 

And the lieutenant proceeded to relate the tale in 
an undertone, while the main current of the conversa- 
tion swung on. 



A Study of Remorse 209 

* George believes that modern Socialism is the result 
of tinned meats and teetotal principles,' said Herries, 
laughing. 

' So it is,' responded his host. ' Feed a man on 
beef and ale and thrash him judiciously when young, 
and he will become a reasonable being, loyal and God- 
fearing. Give him potted salmon and tea, and un- 
limited petting, and he will yell himself hoarse in 
Trafalgar Square and live under police supervision.' 

' But do you not consider that people think more 
than they used to do ? ' said the thin man. 

' Oh, thinkers never do anything.' 

' That,' observed Cassilis, ' is just as well, for when 
thinkers take to doing, it is usually undoing.' 

Which remark caused the Bishop to regard him 
critically, 

' Quite so,' assented Occleston, ' they are all alike, 
big thinkers and little ones. That fellow in Wofifen- 
dale, Hay, who writes books to prove that everything 
is something else, and that he himself is considerably 
wiser than the Almighty, is own brother to Pugh here, 
who would cheerfully destroy the empire to stop me 
from preserving the game, supposing that the one de- 
pended on the other.' 

* Is Mr. Hay an educated man ? ' enquired the 
Bishop. 

' He is not a cultivated one,' responded Basset. ' I 
have seen a dictionary in his house. No cultivated 
man owns a dictionary.' 

* But suppose you come across such a word as 
" amphihexahedral," ' suggested Parfitt. 

* Ignore it. The base jargon of science is on a 
level with thieves ' slang and lawyers' English ; an 



2IO Quality Corner 

unpleasant dialect invented by a troublesome body of 
men for their own convenience. A cultivated man has 
no use for such perversion of sound.' 

The Bishop smiled. * I am charmed to make your 
acquaintance, Mr. Basset.' 

' Most people are, my lord. I shall hope to con- 
tinue in your good opinion.' 

' Quality Corner is undoubtedly an attractive place,' 
the Bishop turned gallantly to Emily. ' As a bachelor, 
I am uncertain whether to regret the distance between 
it and Woffendale, or to rejoice that I am so far re- 
moved from disturbing influences.' 

Emily Darnton was looking her best this evening. 
She wore black, but it was black of the fluffy and 
sparkHng kind. Her eyes were bright, her cheeks 
flushed, her chestnut hair shining in the lamplight, as 
she replied gaily: 

' I fear you would not always approve of us. What 
would you say if I confessed to having burnt Blair's 
sermons because I was so tired of them ? ' 

' Don't tell anybody,' responded the Bishop, lower- 
ing his voice, ' but I once did worse than that. I 
sold the " Whole Duty of Man " for two white mice ! 
I beg you not to repeat this. Miss Darnton. It would 
be such an excellent paragraph for the evening papers.' 

Woffendale's prelate had seen more than fifty years 
of this curious world, but those years had polished, 
not eroded him. As Emily noted the well set-up 
figure, the keen features, the shrewd yet not unkindly 
glitter of the eye, the bland self-possession of the 
manner, with its faint shade of coquetry — if such a 
word may be applied to a priest; she mentally de- 
cided that the Right Reverend Father was not fatherly ; 



A Study of Remorse 2 1 1 

that, in short, the Bishop might be regarded as stand- 
ing beside other men in the marriage market. Of 
course he was not James Cassihs, but the thought 
crossed Emily's mind that if Cassilis married Thea, 
she — Emily — might find consolation in ruling the 
episcopal palace and its master. ' I could never face 
a solitary life,' she reflected. ' I should be so bored.' 
Then she glanced across the table at Thea and Herries. 
If Herries won, Emily did not for a moment doubt 
that she herself would ultimately marry Cassilis. He 
was just then attending to the wants of his right-hand 
neighbour, a pretty woman with fair hair. 

' Yes,' Emily heard her say, ' we live quite near to 
Mr. Herries. It will be so pleasant when he is mar- 
ried.' 

Evidently the fair-haired woman regarded the girl 
sitting opposite as the future mistress of that old 
moated home called Wandesleys. ' And doubtless she 
was right,' thought Cassilis himself, as he made some 
vague response. As far as appearance went they 
seemed well suited. Herries was a good-looking man, 
with a chivalrous gentleness of manner that was very 
attractive. At this moment he was speaking to Thea. 

' The Outwood carnations are good this year, I 
see you remain faithful to the old crimson cloves.' 

' My Sops-in-Wine, as Spenser calls them. Yes, 
I like them best. Is it not Spenser ? ' smilingly appeal- 
ing to Cassilis. 

Herries noticed the glance and a swift shadow 
crossed his face. Just as he himself had been an un- 
expected surprise to Cassilis, so also he now felt the 
same shock in discovering a stranger so evidently 
occupying the position of friend and comrade at 



212 Quality Corner 

Number Two, Quality Corner. He mentally called 
himself names for having stayed away so long. Then 
he reflected that his continual presence would not 
have helped him, considering the cause of his absence. 
He had gone away as a result of a distinctly unsatis- 
factory interview with Thea; then had resolved to 
take heart and see what time might bring him. This, 
however, did not promise well. He took a quick yet 
comprehensive survey of Cassilis and decided that he 
was likely to prove a dangerous rival; a rival, too, 
who was always on the spot; whereas he — Herries — 
lived a dozen miles from Ringway. 

' " Bring Coronations and Sops-in-Wine," ' quoted 
CassiHs in reply. ' Yes, I think it is Spenser.' 

' But why were the flowers called Sops-in-Wine ? * 
asked the fair-haired woman. 

' Because,' answered Thea, ' their scent and colour 
reminded people of the cake floating in wine that was 
offered to wedding guests. I like those old flower 
names ; Bachelors' Buttons, Fair Maids of France, and 
all the rest.' 

' So do I,' said Herries. Then he addressed Cassilis. 
' Perhaps you are interested in old books ? I have 
some curious black-letter things at Wandesleys that 
I should be pleased to show you.' 

* Thank you. I should like to see them very much.' 

Here Occleston's voice broke in, arguing with some- 
body: 

' . . . And that's what comes of our scientific 
knowledge. Scientific engineering wanted to make 
that precious Channel Tunnel ! ' 

' I have always regarded science as another form 
of the devil,' observed Basset placidly, ' a popular 



A Study of Remorse 213 

form, you know. It has poisoned the air and the 
water, has filled our towns with men and women 
inferior to their fathers, and now it is busy poisoning 
our fields and our animals, and has attempted, as 
George says, to destroy our great wet ditch around 
our island fortress. I trust,' turning to the Bishop, 
' you will pardon my allusion to the Enemy of man- 
kind? It is perhaps somewhat of a trespass on your 
preserves.' 

' Not at all, Mr. Basset, not at all,' responded the 
Bishop sweetly. ' I am inclined to think that the laity 
have greater proprietary rights in those coverts than 
ourselves.' 

' I assure you my only sin is that of encouraging 
other sinners.' 

' So I heard this morning,' drily. 

' Ah,' murmured Basset, ' my friend the curate ! ' 
Then aloud, ' Surely you do not wholly condemn my 
sympathy? If I could persuade you to dine with 
me, I have little doubt that I should succeed in con- 
vincing you of the wisdom of my views.' 

' Are your dinners so serious as that ? ' 

' So beneficial. I never use the word " serious " in 
connection with dinner. To do so defeats the object 
of the meal. May I hope for your presence at my 
table?' 

' In two months' time, Mr. Basset, I shall be most 
happy. I am going away till October. On my return, 
if you will invite me to Quality Comer,' here the 
Bishop's eyes rested a moment on Emily Damton, 
* I shall deem myself fortunate.' 

' Basset will be fortunate,' said Occleston from the 
other end of the table. * It is high time the church 



214 Quality Corner 

took him in hand. Of all the sacrilegious old 
Pagans ! ' 

' Gently,' interposed Basset. 

' I don't believe a parson ever enters his house 
except to quarrel with him/ Occleston went on, 

' That is why I do not like them,' said Basset plain- 
tively, and the Bishop smiled. 

' He has no proper respect for the clergy,' George 
persisted. ' I tell him they are one of the main sources 
of our supply of heroes. Recipe for a good soldier : — 
take a parson father, a quiet pottering parson ; a clever 
mother ; and there is your soldier ! ' 

Whereupon Woffendale's Bishop looked thoughtful. 

' If,' continued Occleston, ' we could raise an army 
of sons of country parsons and Quakers and tried 
soldiers of that stamp, we could sweep the earth ! — 
and then go on and clear out the Bottomless Pit. 
There's nothing like an out-of-door Puritan ancestry; 
let folks scoff as they please. Look at the men of 
the Mutiny time ! — the men who saved India for us. 
It is astonishing how many of them came from homes 
of that sort. Yes, and were thoroughly good fellows 
themselves too.' 

' Ah, yes,' said the Bishop softly, — 

' All that chivalry of His, 
The soldier-saints. 

I am proud to belong to the same nation as they. 
As for others who have served their country well, yet 
have failed in their private lives, these are our gifted 
pagans. Paganism judges a man by his public life 
only, leaving him pretty much to his own devices aside 
from his duty to his country.' 



A Study of Remorse 215 

' Then,' remarked Basset, ' I am certainly no pagan, 

for I think my private Hfe is better than my public 

one! ' 

* I am afraid,' the Bishop responded with extreme 

suavity, ' that Christianity demands the whole of a 

man's life, both public and private.' 

' That is so, I admit. I am aware there is no loop- 
hole for escape. But I protest I have the greatest 
possible respect for the clergy. That they do not 
often come to my house is purely a matter of incom- 
patibility. I confess their goodness terrifies me. Is 
is possible that my wickedness terrifies them ? ' 

' I will certainly come and dine with you, Mr. Bas- 
set,' said the Bishop with decision. 

Supper is a lingering meal, and perhaps the grouse 
suppers at Outwood were even more elongated than 
most of their kind. But even an Outwood grouse 
supper comes to an end. The last tales were told, 
the last arguments over, and the departing guests 
were standing at the door saying good-night. The 
night had not changed. There was the same violet 
star-strewn sky, the same cloudy horizon with its 
flickering lightning, the same dark mere below. 

Only in the south-west Antares no longer blazed. 
The Scorpion had dipped with the turning earth, and 
was gone. 

' We are late,' said someone. 

' No,' said Tony Occleston, ' we are early. It all 
depends upon which side of the clock you look at it.' 

' Why, what time is it ? ' asked Parfitt, who was 
standing within the door. 

And Cassilis, on the terrace without, answered un- 
thinkingly, 



2i6 Quality Corner 

' Half-past twelve.' 

As he spoke, the pale lightning gleamed over his 
face, and suddenly, more swiftly than the gleam, 
Parfitt remembered the hot night in Bramsall ten years 
ago, when Cassilis — younger, despairing — looked out 
from a window in the shabby little street, and asked the 
question which he himself had just now asked, re- 
ceiving the same answer that Cassilis had just now 
given. Mark drew a long breath of satisfaction. 

' How very curious,' he said, addressing Cassilis, 
* that we should repeat the same enquiry and reply 
ten years after. I have frequently wondered where 
we had met before, but could not recollect till now. 
It was in Bramsall. You asked me what time it was 
as I passed along the street, and I told you half-past 
twelve. The date was the sixth of August.' 

' I also recollect the circumstance,' said Cassilis. ' It 
is certainly curious.' 

' I had an idea you needed help of some sort that 
night,' continued the artist, and paused. 

' I think I did.' 

* So I turned back when I reached the end of the 
street, but could not identify the house. There were 
so many of the little rat-holes, and all alike. After- 
wards I heard some fellow had poisoned himself in 
one of them, and I naturally thought it was you, as 
your question was an odd one considering that you 
were indoors and I out, and intending suicides are 
given to queer fancies. But I was mistaken, for here 
you stand alive. Curious that all these years I should 
have been thinking of you as a dead man — that is, 
when I chanced to think of you at all.' 

By this time Herries, standing close to both, had 



A Study of Remorse aiy 

intuitively become aware that Parfitt was busily work- 
ing a rack on which Cassilis was stretched ; and with 
instinctive generosity he interposed. 

' Occleston wishes to speak to you, I believe,' he 
said, turning to Mark and glancing into the hall where 
their host stood talking. Parfitt understood perfectly 
and was inclined to resent the interference, but there 
was that about Herries' voice and manner which made 
Mark feel rather as though he had received a spiritual 
black eye, with the not distant prospect of another. 
So reflecting that he had certainly got Cassilis at last, 
and could give the rack an extra screw whenever he 
pleased, he drew back and joined the group round 
George Occleston. 

Herries turned to Cassilis. 

' My place lies over there in a straight line/ he 
remarked casually, with a nod across the mere, * only 
ten miles off. I shall be happy to welcome you, Dr. 
Cassilis, any time you have a spare day. Tony here 
will show you the way.' 

' Thank you,' replied Cassilis. ' I will come with 
great pleasure,' 

' So will I,' Anthony chimed in. ' I have not been 
to Wandesleys for ages.' Then he added in Emily 
Darnton's ear, ' Good fellow, Herries ! Snubbed Par- 
fitt well, didn't he ! ' 

' Yes, but I did not quite hear what Mr. Parfitt 
was saying.' This in a low voice as she and Tony 
walked down the drive. 

' Oh, Cassilis seems to have been in Bramsall ten 
years ago, and hard-up. I call it downright low to 
remind a fellow of his poverty.' 

Herries' interpretation of Parfitt's observations was 



!2i8 Quality Corner 

not so simple. He thought there certainly was some- 
thing odd about that night ten years ago, not be- 
cause Parfitt's manner hinted it, but because his 
keener perceptions and his sympathy with Cassilis 
told him so. Kindly feeling impelled him to give the 
invitation. He was quite willing to receive his rival 
at his house. There Cassilis would at least be well 
away from Quality Corner. 

During the brief scene, Thea had arrived at the 
same conclusion as Tony Occleston. Also, she had 
never liked Herries so well as when his easy inter- 
position freed Cassilis from his tormentor. But her 
grateful glance did not cheer the deliverer's breast. 
It revealed too much interest in the victim. Yet Her- 
ries contrived to be Thea's companion when — a few 
minutes later — the Quality Corner people started on 
their return journey. 

* I did not know you were coming with us,' she 
observed as they crossed the bridge in the fir planta- 
tion. 

' Only to the woods. I am riding home to-night.' 

' Are you ? I wish I were riding too. Not home, 
but anywhere. In this blue darkness, with the light- 
ning and the stars, one might meet all the people of 
whom one has ever heard.' 

Herries was not, like Cassilis, able to follow the 
most erratic swallow-flights of thought, but he under- 
stood the restless mood that sent them winging; and 
therefore proceeded to say something which he hoped 
would be pleasant. 

' It would probably be better than meeting some 
of the people one sees. Parfitt, for instance, is a dis- 



A Study of Remorse -2 19 

agreeable fellow. How long does he mean to stay in 
Quality Corner ? ' 

' I do not know. You are very good.' 

' Am I ? ' The praise did not appear to give any 
great satisfaction, for Herries' tone was melancholy. 

' You seem to be able to manage Mr. Parfitt. I was 
surprised.' 

' Oh, that is not difficult.' He paused ; then re- 
sumed : * I am good, and I can manage Parfitt. I sup- 
pose I must be content with that.' 

' It is high praise. Nobody has hitherto succeeded 
in managing Mr. Parfitt.' 

' I will come over to Quality Corner and keep him 
in order.' 

' Yes, do,' said Thea absently. She was thinking 
of that scene at the door of Outwood, and was not 
pleased. True, Cassilis had replied with the utmost 
calmness, had certainly held his ground ; but Parfitt 
had not been quelled, had not retreated one inch. 
It was Herries who had compelled him to retire. 
Now no woman likes to see the man for whom she 
has a preference unable effectually to control another 
man. In her compassion there was a distinct tinge 
of disappointment, and her anger against Parfitt rose 
the more vehemently by reason of that disappoint- 
ment. If Herries had hoped for encouragement when 
he spoke of coming to Quality Corner, he understood 
well enough by her manner of acquiescence that she 
was indift"erent to his visit except as it might aid 
Cassilis ; and they walked on for a few minutes in 
silence. Then the woods were reached and Herries 
stopped. 



220 Quality Corner 

' Good-night,' he said. 

' Oh, I had forgotten you were not coming any 
farther with us. Good-night ! ' holding out her hand. 

Herries held it a moment. 

' Do not let Parfitt annoy you. He is a bird of 
passage and will soon be gone. Here are the others,' 
as several dusky figures approached. 

' What ? Going, Herries ? ' said Basset, who was 
the foremost. ' Come and dine with us next week. 
Any day will do.' 

And in the general leave-taking, Thea and Cassilis 
strolled on into the olive gloom of the woods. 

Herries sighed as he strode back along the field- 
path, but he knew right well that his only chance lay 
in steady patience. Then he thought of Parfitt and 
frowned. What was the difficulty about that night 
in Bramsall? There had been an ugly look on the 
artist's face. Herries had interfered, and, given the 
chance, would do so again, but he rather wished he 
knew the story, if there was a story. Perhaps it was 
nothing much, yet Basset really ought to be more 
careful how he admitted strangers to his house on 
intimate terms. At this point Herries pulled himself 
up, for, recalling Cassilis as he had seen him to-night, 
he felt the attraction that the wanderer had for most 
of his fellow-men. Besides, it suddenly occurred to 
Herries that Parfitt might also be a rival, and this 
idea made him very angry indeed. Which was un- 
reasonable, as certainly Mark would be considered 
a more eligible suitor than the other. He had made 
himself a name and position, whereas Cassilis had 
neither. But Herries was observant, as became a good 



A Study of Remorse 221 

sportsman. He accurately summed up Parfitt as * a 
cold-blooded brute/ and pondered wrathfully over the 
lamentable condition of Quality Corner till he reached 
Outwood again. There he bade good-night to Occles- 
ton and his wife, mounted his horse, and rode away 
into the night. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

WHEN is one's sense of enjoyment the strongest? 
Is it when one sees one's string of jewels drop- 
ping into the abyss? — pleasures, hopes, dreams, all 
glittering for a moment ere they vanish. As the fern- 
scented darkness of the woods closed round Thea and 
himself, Cassilis felt that hour at least was his. All 
else had gone or was going; all his fairy jewels 
slipping from his grasp; his rainbow fading; his life 
lit only by that flickering lightning, that Handwriting 
on the Wall that had twice revealed him to his enemy ; 
ten years ago in the dingy street, and now again on 
the terrace at Outwood. Well, here were the woods, 
sombre aisles of dusky leafage, and Thea, a dim 
figure — a clear voice in the dewy gloom ; as she was 
that evening on the hillside. 

' We have the recipe of fern-seed, we walk invisible,' 
he quoted jestingly after a minute's silence. 

' Are you pining for a moon ? Or can you appreciate 
the starlight ? ' 

' Is it starlight ? I thought it was magic. This is a 
fairy night. Let us walk on to the end of the world 
and look over.' 

Thea laughed softly. ' I should not care to look 
over. I am content with this world.' 

' So am I — in these woods. Let us tell each other 
fairy-tales. Who is it that speaks of his life as " that 
Dark Fairy-tale " ? ' 



A Study of Remorse 223 

* I know, but I forget.' 

* Well,' Cassilis paused a moment. Should he say 
anything respecting Parfitt's recognition of him? To 
what end? Yet he felt reluctant to keep silence when 
Thea had stood by him on the terrace, hearing and 
seeinng Mark's words and manner and Herries' inter- 
position. To say nothing seemed to admit Parfitt's 
insolence as deserved. Yet to say all would un- 
doubtedly be to condemn himself utterly, for who 
would believe? Still poor human nature clamoured 
to justify itself, to place itself favourably by saying a 
little — only a little. And here was Cassilis his own 
old self, the hesitating self that had wrecked him. A 
stronger man would either have kept silence or have 
owned all. 

' I was two years in Bramsall,' he said, ' and while 
there I fell into great poverty.' 

' I am sorry,' and her voice partook of the dewy 
softness of the night. 

' Thank you. But there are worse things even than 
poverty, though not many. I found a friend, who 
rescued me. Then I lost him — by death. I caught 
fever about that time. It was then that, standing one 
night at the open window, I asked the time of a passer- 
by. The stranger was Parfitt. It was a foolish ques- 
tion ; I don't know why I asked it. Naturally he 
thought it curious.' 

' I do not see that it was or is any concern of Mr. 
Parfitt's.' 

' Doubtless he expects an explanation. And I have 
none to give.' 

' Is not Mr. Parfitt being made of too much im- 
portance ? Why not ignore him ? ' 



224 Quality Corner 

' I will. This is the end of my fairy-tale.' 

' It is too short. You have brought in the Ogre 
and disposed of him ; but where is the rest of the 
story ? ' 

' Not lived yet. You see, this is a real fairy-tale.' 

Then he thought of the countless human hves, each 
one a different story, yet all finished by the same hand ; 
that of the Rider on the Pale Horse. 

' Real fairy-tales always end happily,' said Thea. 

' Then I shall hope mine will.' But he knew it would 
not. 

There was a subtle difference in the woodland. 
At ten o'clock there had been a sense of drowsy life; 
nothing was slumbering, only sinking into slumber; 
and the sunburnt open spaces gave up the dry curious 
odour of scorched grass and earth. Now, past mid- 
night, that hot scent of summer was drowned in dew ; 
the damp air redolent of moss and fern, and all the 
trees were sleeping. So profound was the slumber of 
the woods that the little sounds were well-nigh hushed ; 
the tide of life was at the ebb. 

The two walked on, each pondering the Dark Fairy- 
tale. Thea, with a gentle pity, thinking that CassiHs 
was unduly sensitive on the subject of his poverty. 
CassiHs himself wondering what respite fate would 
give him. And now and then the perfume of Thea's 
carnations floated round them, fugitive breaths of 
clove fragrance in the dewiness. Presently she spoke : 
* Do the midnight woods seem unreal to you ? ' 

' No, not unreal. A different reality.' 

' Yes, that is it. Perhaps when we say unreal we 
only mean unusual. It is our ignorance that speaks. 
Why should we not be more familiar with these differ- 



A Study of Remorse 225 

ing realities, these unusual moods of the woods? We 
seem to neglect some of the loveliest aspects of the 
world.' 

' Most of us do. But I cannot imagine anyone being 
more familiar with these woods than you are.' 

' One never really knows them,' she replied. ' They 
change hourly. Can you tell where you are? We are 
passing the chestnut.' 

' Your tree of knowledge ? We do not seem to 
be in an open space.' 

' We are on the other side of the tree.' She stopped 
a moment, then put a cool fan-shaped leaf into Cas- 
silis's hand. ' Feel, that is chestnut.' 

' So it is. Are there more books hidden in its 
trunk ? ' 

' Not to-night. Now you can see the hollow on the 
left.' 

They emerged from deepest shadow into starlight 
once more, and Cassilis looked at the silver-grey un- 
dulating ground sloping away downward, then dimly 
rising beyond. A murmur of voices reached them as 
again they passed into shadow. 

' The others are walking more quickly,' said Thea, 
turning her head to look back, though no one was to 
be seen. ' Probably they are quarrelling. People never 
walk quickly on summer nights unless they are quar- 
relling. As for Emily and Tony, they seem to have 
disappeared altogether.' 

' They were in front of us,' said Cassilis. 

' Perhaps they have been quarrelling too, and have 
therefore reached home already/ Thea suggested with 
that rippling laugh of hers. 

Cassilis laughed too. ' Quarrelling is so simple and 



226 Quality Corner 

easy,' he said, ' so thoroughly within the scope of every- 
body; and moreover, admits of such infinite variety, 
that it is really admirably adapted for the general oc- 
cupation of mankind.' 
' And agreement ? ' 

' That demands other and rarer qualities.' 
' Does not someone say that there are times when 
peace belongs to Satan, but that the fight is God's ? ' 

* Ah, fighting is another matter. It is not quar- 
relling. To fight well needs every good quality that 
human nature can possess. The reason people quarrel 
so much is because they are devoid of the necessary 
gifts for fighting. No good fighter wastes his strength 
on trivial squabbles.' 

' Evidently there are very few good fighters in the 
world,' said Thea musingly. After a moment or two 
she asked, ' What do you think of the Bishop ? ' 

* I liked him. He seemed to have " good gifts and 
possibilities." ' 

' He will be a new element in Quality Corner,' Thea 
continued. ' I am always interested when the Corner 
gains a new element.' 

Thus talking in desultory fashion, they drifted on 
till the lapis-lazuli gloom of the sleeping woods gave 
place to the pale starHt road, so silent now in the 
heart of the night. Even the very dust seemed to lie 
closer, and the hedge-shadows were thicker, more 
velvety. The night, too, along the open road was 
not so protective; more impish, less feminine as it 
were; those velvet hedge-shadows less alluring, more 
menacing than the woodland glooms ; no gracious 
soft-armed Dryads taking form and shape, but tricky 
gnomes, grotesque and mocking. The good hour in 



A Study of Remorse 227 

the woods was over. Yonder at the bottom of the 
hill were the faint lights of Quality Corner, and Cas- 
silis realised afresh how ominously had begun the new 
chapter of his Dark Fairy-tale. 

Then, presently, he and his companion turned into 
the Corner, where Emily Darnton and Tony Occleston 
were waiting; and their friendliness and Basset's 
warmed his heart anew. Cassilis was glad too that the 
Rudells and Parfitt passed on to Number Four without 
stopping. Let the Dark Fairy-tale rest to-night. He 
had read enough. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

THE day following the Grouse Supper was Sun- 
day ; hot and blue, with a west wind blowing 
softly — a wind that had come up from the sea with the 
dawn. It blew the sound of the church bells all over 
the town, and Quality Corner dressed itself and walked 
to church. Cassilis, from his dining-room window, 
watched them go. Basset, Thea, Emily Darnton; 
followed by Rudell, his wife, and Mark Parfitt ; finally, 
Tony Occleston overtaking the first three with a rush. 
Then the sound of the bells and the sound of passing 
feet alike ceased, and the wind alone fluttered the 
Sunday quiet. 

Cassilis had two or three patients to see, and he took 
the longest road to each, trying to walk off the turmoil 
of feeling that still surged within him. The green 
peace of this place ; and the mockery of it ! He felt 
inclined to laugh as he recalled the rest it promised. 
Rest ? — why from that first evening when he saw Par- 
fitt again after ten years he had been in spirit running 
like any poor hunted beast. He could look back on all 
the run ; from the start and the quickening of the pace, 
to the breathless rush now. He slightly wondered 
what would be Parfitt's next attack. Then he told 
himself he did not care. Whatever it was, he was sure 
to go down before it. 

One of his patients lived below the church, and on 
his way Cassilis turned into the churchyard, intending 

228 



A Study of Remorse 0,29 

io cross it and descend into the vale by the steps. In 
the sunny stillness the deep tones of the organ floated 
out. The ' Te Deum ' was being sung, and he paused 
for a moment to listen. Then, to his surprise, he saw 
that Thea Basset was sitting on the wooden bench 
round the old yew-tree by the southern porch. She 
turned her head and greeted him with a little smihng 
nod as he advanced. 

' Did you find the church too warm ? ' he asked. 

* I have not been in it,' she replied. 

' But I thought I saw you go this morning.' 

* Certainly. I escorted Daddy and Emily to the west 
door, and then retired hither.' 

' But why ? ' in astonishment. 

She laughed. ' You are very inquisitive. Sit down 
and I will tell you.' 

Cassilis sat down very willingly. 

' Now listen,' said she ; and there followed a silence 
of some minutes, during which the ' Te Deum ' seemed 
to swing out of the church with the tramp of an army. 
Let us reverently thank Heaven that our Christian 
hymns and creeds were composed in martial ages. 
They have the ring of steel ; the cry of life and death ; 
the passion of supplication and praise. Our modem 
prayers smack of the counter, and have precisely the 
same grace and fervour — that is, none. 

Sitting thus, a sense of remoteness stole over Cassilis, 
as on St. John's Day, when he had come with Thea in 
the early morning. It was good to be here. Once 
more he was the Monk Felix ; listening, unconscious 
of time. 

The closing chords ceased, and the only sound was 
the rustle of the trees in the warm wind. 



230 Quality Corner 

' I am listening,' said Cassilis enquiringly. 

* Did you hear the " Te Deum " ? ' she asked. 

' Yes ; but you said you would explain your reason 
for sitting here.' 

' That/ with a wave of her hand, ' is a part of it. 
Occasionally I give myself this luxury of sitting out- 
side the church on Sunday. One feels like the spirits 
on the green hillside in Dante. You read Dante? ' 

' Long ago I read him.' 

' Then you will remember those spirits who are 
neither in Heaven nor Hell, not even in Purgatory; 
but are only waiting, listening to chants of angels, and 
talking of their own earthly life. Now, to sit here in 
this warm greenness and hear the service going on 
always reminds me of that hillside. Do you see the 
idea?' 

' I see it perfectly. It is a kind of playing at being 
a ghost.' 

The organ notes rolled out from the church again. 

' There is the " Jubilate," ' said Thea, looking dream- 
ily over the valley lying below in the August sunshine ; 
and another listening silence succeeded. The ' Jubi- 
late ' died away and the Creed followed, ringing clearly 
over the churchyard. If ever words were beaten into 
steel by force of human feeling, those of the Creed 
were so beaten. It is a challenge to the world, a sword 
drawn in the world's face. One can hardly refrain 
from shouting it. Then the voices sank to the murmur 
of prayer, and still Cassilis and Thea sat silent. 

' Truly she was right,' he thought. Here was the 
angel-guarded resting-place of grass and flowers, with 
blowing, scented winds ; and here he sat waiting with 



A Study of Remorse 231 

Hell behind him. What lay before him he could not 
tell; but assuredly not Paradise. The words rose to 
his lips: 

' Most of those waiting spirits are tardy penitents, 
are they not ? They have not repented till the hour of 
death. I am recalling the passage. They wait to pass 
to Purgatory, and thence to Paradise; their bliss is 
certain, though delayed ; they speak serenely of their 
past misdeeds, and are happy. It is a singular kind of 
happiness.' 

* In what way is it singular ? ' 

' That they should consider their repentance obliter- 
ates those misdeeds.' 

* And does it not ? ' 

* Very rarely. It is impossible that their wrong- 
doing should not have affected others. Then what 
about those others ? Are they also happy, or have their 
lives been spoilt? If the latter, how is it that the 
spoilers feel no remorse — are serene and happy ? ' 

* The wrong-doing may have turned out well for 
those injured,' said Thea. 

* Sometimes ; but not in the majority of cases. We 
can see that for ourselves all round us. Repentance is 
good, doubtless, for the individual ; but it seems to be 
regarded as restitution — reparation — which it is not, 
and cannot be. Suppose a man fired a cannon-ball 
down a crowded street. He might repent with the 
utmost sincerity, but his repentance would neither heal 
the maimed nor restore the dead. Moreover, his re- 
pentance would not check the course of the ball. It 
would go on maiming and destroying till its initial ve- 
locity was exhausted. No repenting can wipe out the 



232 Quality Corner 

past. A man may throw away the thirty pieces, and 
even hang himself; but his treachery remains and 
grows and bears its fruit.' 

Cassilis paused a moment. He was looking over the 
valley, and speaking with a quiet intensity. The girl 
beside him could not know along what sombre winding 
ways of painful thought he trod ; but her hstening 
sympathetic presence soothed him. He resumed : 

' And remorse is the fitting and inevitable punish- 
ment, the private hell which each wrong-doer makes 
for himself, and which will assuredly be his whether 
he reaches Paradise or not. But it is a better hell than 
the other, for remorse is true repentance.' 

* Then what becomes of Paradise ? ' 

* It remains Paradise,' he said, turning to her with a 
sudden smile. ' It is rest and repentance, though not 
forgetfulness. I merely protested against the remark- 
able cheerfulness displayed by the destroyers of others' 
peace. Of course Dante is right. That is the usual 
attitude of repentant sinners. They wish to forget, 
and they generally do.' 

Another silence. Then Thea spoke : 

' Surely in Paradise remorse would fade in time, as 
the sunshine whitens all things.' 

' In long ages it might be so,' with another smile. 
* The idea gives hope certainly.' 

* I can hardly believe the pain of remorse should last 
for ever.' 

' Except as a remembered pain perhaps. For the 

Christian there is no Lethe.' 

' I do not think one would desire Lethe ? ' 

Again the silence — the silence which is the surest 

test of comradeship. The wind blew showers of poppy 



A Study of Remorse i^^ 

petals over the low wall from the cottagers' gardens 
just without — wonderful petals, lavender and crimson, 
scarlet, pale violet and rose ; strewing the grass and the 
mossy stones. Fragrance of sun-warmed stocks, too, 
came on the wind with the poppy petals. 

Cassilis spoke as though there had been no pause in 
the conversation. 

' You are right,' he said with shining eyes, ' one 
would not desire Lethe. You may even be right re- 
specting the gradual fading of remorse as a stain fades. 
Perhaps if I sat here long enough I might agree with 
you in all things.' 

' That would be a pity,' she replied gravely. ' A 
little variety is better.' 

* So it is,' he agreed. ' People often forget that, 
don't they? — and develop a craze for moulding others; 
destroying the very individuality that attracts them. 
Pulling off the butterfly's wings and then reproaching 
the poor thing for crawling.' 

Cassilis paused again, and the wind blew more poppy 
petals over the wall. 

' There is Dante's glow of colour on the grass,' he 
said, looking at the scarlet and violet flecks. ' We 
should grow very wise if we stayed long on this hill- 
side, apart from the world, and looking down on life 
as we look down on the valley. But the insistent 
cricket-calls of daily existence summon us. One must 
always leave everything for them. We let even the 
dinner-bell draw us from Heaven — perhaps the only 
Heaven we shall ever have. Even this hillside is but 
a brief resting-place. Do you hear the sermon ending ? 
Not my sermon, but the one in there,' glancing towards 
the church. 



234 Quality Corner 

* Yes.' She leant back against the tree-trunk and 
looked up into the yew branches, dark beneath the 
jewel-blue. ' I think you are mistaken in objecting to 
the cricket-calls. They prevent weariness of peace. 
You would grow tired of the hillside if you were not 
called away.' 

' No, I should not.' 

'Not?' 

' No, I think the capacity for growing tired of things 
and people was somehow left out of my composition. 
I do not remember ever wearying of anything that has 
seemed pleasant to me.' 

Cassilis rose as he spoke. He would not stay till the 
worshippers came out of church. The fragrant peace 
of that summer morning should remain unbroken in 
his memory. 

' I am obeying a cricket-call now,' he continued. ' I 
have a patient to see down in the vale.' 

' Then good-bye till this evening,' she replied, and 
watched him going away over the blowing poppy- 
strewn grass to the gap in the wall so considerately 
left by the old builders, that the wayfarer might take 
the shortest cut to the steep steps down the hillside. 
At the gap Cassilis turned and looked back at the 
graceful figure sitting on the bench beneath the yew. 
Seeing him turn, Thea smiled and waved her hand 
with a slight outward gesture that struck him like a 
remembered stab. Just so had his dead friend often 
bidden him farewell. He hesitated a moment, taking 
off his hat and standing bareheaded in the sunshine, 
reluctant to leave that place of silent sunny rest. The 
very gesture that startled, yet drew him. It had so 
strange and yet so familiar a charm. But he would 



A Study of Remorse a^S 

not — could not go back to mingle with the crowd that 
in another minute would stream out of the old porch. 
He would remember that hillside only as the resting- 
place of Dante's vision ; a place of grass and flowers, 
with sound of psalms and blowing winds ; and with 
not only peace but companionship. So he went away 
down the worn old steps to the valley below. 



CHAPTER XXV 

ON Sunday afternoon Quality Corner was usually 
wrapped in slumber. At Number Two Basset 
dozed peacefully in his arm-chair by the wood fire, his 
fingers resting on a favourite book, and the summer 
wind lifting his white hair. Outside on the verandah, 
Thea and Emily were discussing last night's supper. 

' I cannot decide,' said Emily, ' whether I enjoyed 
myself amazingly or not at all.' 

Thea laughed. ' Why decide ? Make up your mind 
that you enjoyed yourself tolerably well.' 

' I didn't. I was either at the zenith or the nadir. 
Perhaps I was alternately at one or the other.' A 
pause. Then Emily added, ' Thea, I think I shall marry 
into the church.' 

' What is your reason ? I mean, who is your rea- 
son? ' 

' I told you I needed employment. There is lots of 
employment in the church.' 

' I should think looking after one man quite employ- 
ment enough.' 

' If one is in love with him. But nobody falls in love 
with a clergyman ; it would not be proper. To marry 
into the church is to choose a vocation. What are you 
laughing at ? ' 

' Really I cannot follow the workings of your mind.' 

' No wonder ! I can hardly follow them myself.' 

' But why marry if you are not in love? ' 
236 



A Study of Remorse 237 

* Have I not told you the reason ? For employment.' 

* Better wait and see if you can meet the right man.' 
' Oh, I am not in a hurry. I am merely turning over 

the idea in my mind. But how seldom one meets the 
right man ! If one cannot get wine, one must be con- 
tent with water.' 

' I do not see the necessity. Wherefore this sudden 
fancy for the church? It appears to date from last 
night. Also, I should rather describe the Bishop as 
one of those teetotal beverages which are considerably 
stronger than water.' 

' I am not sure that I was thinking of the Bishop 
when I said that.' 

* Of whom were you thinking? ' 

' Of no one. Of almost everyone. You see, I am 
looking for a husband, you expect a husband to look 
for you. Yes, the longer I reflect, the more impossible 
it becomes to decide whether I enjoyed the supper or 
not! Did I ever tell you that when I was in Devon 
with my aunt a few years ago, I met a doctor who, 
before we left, wrote me a note which may or may not 
have been a proposal. I could not tell, for it was 
written in the usual medical hieroglyphics. So I re- 
plied with vague sweetness that I was going home. I 
did not dare to say more. I could only read his signa- 
ture. The rest looked like " an ounce of quinine to 
be taken every ten minutes," or something of that sort.' 

' A chemist would have read it for you, a young sym- 
pathetic chemist.' 

' So he would ! What a truly gorgeous idea ! I 
wish I had thought of it. Who knows what I may 
have missed ? ' 

' Is it too late ? ' 



238 Quality Corner 

' Much too late : I have forgotten his name.' 

The conversation flowed on ; the summer wind 
ruffled the leaves, making flickering shadows on the 
garden paths ; and within Basset still slept in his chair. 
Presently he was aroused by the entrance of Rudell. 

' Ah, sit down,' said Basset, ' and I will get up a 
bottle of Burgundy.' 

' No, thanks. Look here, there is something queer 
about Cassilis.' 

' Nonsense ! ' 

' I am afraid there is. You must really listen.' 

' Well, what is it ? Did he " keep company with the 
wild Prince and Polns " ? ' 

'It is a serious matter,' said Rudell impatiently. 
' I am not fond of my brother-in-law, as you know, 
but look at this drawing of his, and observe its date.' 

And Rudell spread out on a table at Basset's elbow, 
the charcoal drawing that Parfitt had made ten years 
before. Basset took it up. 

' Is it intended for Cassilis ? ' 

' It is Cassihs. Done ten years ago in Bramsall. 
Parfitt saw him at a window of a house in Mill Street 
at half -past twelve that night ; ' and Rudell related the 
circumstances. 

' What concern is this of ours ? ' Basset asked, 
laying down the drawing. 

' Of ours ? Why, I want the matter cleared up. I 
want to know what Cassilis was doing there, and 
whether he was implicated in poor Thorold's death.' 

' My dear Rudell,' said Basset gravely, after a mo- 
ment's silence, ' let us not permit ourselves to suspect a 
mutual friend of a crime when we have not the slightest 
reason to suppose that a crime was committed.' 



A Study of Remorse 239 

' I have long thought that Thorold was poisoned by 
somebody who wished to get hold of that invention of 
his, whatever it is. You will remember it vanished, 
and we had no proof that it ever existed, save in his 
mind, he mentioned it so vaguely. Pity he did not 
speak of it more freely to us. We might then have 
been able to trace it. Anyway, it must have been a fail- 
ure, since Cassilis is poor. That is some satisfaction.' 

' To speak of a man like Cassilis in connection with 
suspicions such as these is really — excuse me, Rudell — 
monstrous ! ' 

' Any man is capable of anything,' said Rudell the 
lawyer. 

' Not so. Besides, I don't care what he is capable 
of. I like him, and that is enough.' 

' I like him too, yet it is not enough,' 

' It should be. I do not know when I have met any- 
one so companionable, not since we lost poor Thorold. 
Of course Cassilis has not Thorold's sunny brilliancy. 
He is graver, saddened somehow, and without ambi- 
tion.' 

' There you are wrong. Basset. A man with that 
head and face, that clear incisive voice, and that 
quietude of manner, is one who means or has meant to 
do something big.' 

' If you were right, he would not be contentedly 
settling down here.' 

' I am not sure of that. This may be his St. Helena, 
I wish to trace his Waterloo. He has dropped here 
from the clouds, so to speak.' 

' To be a stranger is not a crime.' 

' We know nothing about him. He does not seem 
to have any relations.' 



240 Quality Corner 

* For that most people would be disposed to envy 
him.' 

' Oh, I grant that. But he must have some. Why 
not speak of them? If I have a brute of an uncle, I 
say I've a brute of an uncle. It is respectable to have 
relations, even if they do chance to be own brothers to 
the Gadarene swine.' 

' I do not see that a man is obliged to speak of his 
relatives.' 

' But I do. They ought to be there. Good, bad, or 
indifferent, they ought to be in evidence.' 

' You are influenced by Parfitt. Probably he is a 
liar, he looks like one.' 

' He does,' Rudell admitted ; ' but what motive can 
he have for lying ? ' 

' A thousand motives,' replied Basset. ' Instinctive 
antagonism for one thing. A pleasure in making mis- 
chief for another. That is the form which love of 
power takes in mean natures. They can make mischief 
and they do, and the subsequent racket gratifies them 
because they are the authors of it. They may not be 
able to colour a stained glass window, but they can 
heave a stone through it, and the smashing gives a 
sense of power — a perverted sense, of course.' 

' Still, there is some truth in Parfitt 's story, for he 
tells me he spoke of it to Cassilis last night as they 
were leaving Outwood, and Cassilis acknowledged he 
was in Bramsall ten years ago.' 

* Why should the matter have been mentioned last 
night ? ' 

' Because it was only then that Parfitt recollected 
where he had seen Cassilis. He says that next day he 
casually heard of a suicide in that street, and supposed 



1 



A Study of Remorse 241 

Cassilis was the man. Of course he means Thorold's 
death, but either he did not hear the name or has for- 
gotten it, so he does not connect the rumour with Thea.' 

' Your wife will enlighten him.' 

' She only knows poor Thorold died in Bramsall, she 
is not aware of the circumstances. Therefore it is 
hardly probable that she will perceive any link between 
our loss and her brother's memory. Though,' added 
Rudell, ' I myself see no reason for concealment.' 

Basset was silent for some minutes. 

' I think,' he said at last, ' that you are a little sur- 
prised by my reluctance to reopen the question of 
Thorold's death. I admit I am most reluctant. I pre- 
fer to believe it accidental. Your vague suspicions are 
merely the result of your mind having been turned 
upon the subject by hearing of Mrs. Heald, or rather 
Stanham.' 

' I mean to question that woman,' said Rudell dog- 
gedly, ' and I shall find that Cassilis was the missing 
lodger who was supposed to have left long before. No 
doubt he made it worth her while to tell that tale at the 
inquest. She looked a wretched creature, worn and 
haggard, one who would be glad to say anything for a 
little money.' 

' I shall be sorry if you trouble her, Rudell. I be- 
lieve I said so yesterday when you were speaking of 
seeing her.' 

' Things have taken a more serious turn. I feel 
bound to ask a few questions.' 

' Well, she is now in WoflFendale. When she and 
Gresty are married and she returns to the farm, I hope 
you will pause and consider a little before you give the 
old sorrow new life.' 



242 Quality Corner 

' My dear Basset, setting aside the duty which I 
think we owe to poor Thorold, there is another con- 
sideration which does not seem to occur to you. Cas- 
silHs undoubtedly admires Thea. Suppose she were to 
marry him ? ' 

Basset glanced towards the verandah. 

* Take care she does not hear you. She is out there 
with Emily. Well, I hardly think the contingency prob- 
able. I consider she is more hkely to marry Herries, 
though she has refused him. Neither would be ex- 
actly the man for her. I may say, however, that per- 
sonally I should offer no objection to Cassilis, though 
I should then make enquiries concerning his family. 
As for the suspicion you are entertaining, it seems to 
me so preposterous that I cannot regard it seriously.' 

' The thing is not impossible. You see, Basset, you 
have adopted another man's daughter, and that makes 
complications. I have never approved of her being 
called by your name instead of her own.' 

' She is not called by it. I wished the name to be 
Thorold-Basset.' 

' And of course everyone calls her Basset. In all 
probability Cassilis has never heard her name, unless 
he happened to notice Herries speaking to her. He is 
the only one who never forgets she is Thorold.' 

' What can it possibly matter ? ' 

' I mean, the name might have acted as a warning 
to Cassilis to ascertain who she was before paying her 
any particular attentions. The more I turn things over 
in my mind the more ominous they seem. If Cassilis 
was the other lodger, his presence would account for 
the prussic acid which has always puzzled me, as 



A Study of Remorse 243 

Thorold had no reason for getting it. I am resolved 
to sift the matter to the bottom. His very silence about 
his past is suspicious.' 

' No,' said Basset, ' your conjectures are of the wild- 
est. Look at them calmly. Because a man happens 
to be at the same time in the same town in which we 
lose a friend, you imagine he must of necessity be con- 
cerned in that friend's death.' 

' He owns to being in the same street on the same 
night.' 

' What of that ? It amounts to nothing, to less than 
nothing. In short, it is Parfitt's doing, and I feel sur- 
prised that you should give the fancy a moment's 
credence.' 

' How came that prussic acid in Thorold's room ? It 
is not a common poison. But given a doctor in the 
house, its presence is at once explained.' 

' Prejudice — cruel prejudice,' was Basset's reply. 
* Cassilis is coming to dine with us to-day and I shall be 
delighted to see him. It must be nearly dinner-time 
now. Six on Sunday, you know.' 

' For sheer obstinacy. Basset, I do not know your 
equal.' 

* Call it firmness. That sounds better. Ah, Cassilis, 
I was just telling Rudell I expected you.' 

For once Rudell was taken aback. He and Basset 
had been too busy talking to notice the opening of the 
door, and Cassilis was always so swift and noiseless in 
his movements, that almost before they realised his 
presence he was standing by them — and on the table 
lay his own portrait. 

He saw and recognised it at once, saw also the place 



244 Quality Corner 

and date written on one corner, and seeing, knew that 
his having been in Bramsall that night was the subject 
of discussion. 

' I was not aware,' he said, glancing at the drawing, 

* that Mr. Parfitt had done me the honour of making a 
sketch of me.' 

The situation was beyond Rudell, but Basset rose 
to it. 

* Perhaps I may be excused saying that I have never 
admired Mr. Parfitt's talent. It is one which I con- 
sider might with advantage have remained wrapped in 
a napkin.' 

* Say anything you please,' replied Rudell briskly, 
getting up. ' I don't think much of it myself.' 

' Of what ? ' The questioner was Emily Darnton. 
She and Thea were coming in from the verandah. 
' Oh, that ! ' perceiving the drawing. ' Susette showed 
it to me a week or two ago and I did not recognise any 
likeness then.' 

' Perhaps the artist has touched it up since,' Thea 
suggested, smiling at Cassilis. 

' I think that is extremely probable,' observed Basset. 

Rudell rolled up the drawing. 

' I will tell him all opinions are adverse,' he said. 

* Evidently his gift is not portraiture. Good-bye. See 
you again presently.' 

As Rudell departed, Tony Occleston arrived, and 
his presence was welcome, giving a different direction 
to the general conversation and dispersing the vague 
discomfort created by Parfitt's sketch. Over Cassilis 
himself, however, the glamour of the morning yet lin- 
gered, the spell of the green hillside where the tumult 
of life had seemed hushed for a little space; and so 



J 



A Study of Remorse 245 

complete was the spell that even that portrait upon 
Basset's table had not — as yet — stirred his spirit to 
pain. That would come later. So he enjoyed himself, 
and Thea, seeing his mood, echoed it, talking with soft 
sparkle of merriment, perhaps the brighter for the un- 
derlying pity and the anger roused by Parfitt's conduct. 
The Dark Fairy-tale dwelt in her mind, and in the 
drawing that Rudell carried away she intuitively per- 
ceived another page of that tale, though written in a 
character she could not decipher. 

Basset also, resolved that Cassilis should not im- 
agine him influenced by the incident of the portrait, 
talked his best and cheeriest, helped by Tony Occles- 
ton's high spirits. Emily Darnton was the one who 
felt most difficulty in ignoring the shadow of the un- 
known past. Her curiosity respecting it was greater 
than Thea's because her comprehension of Cassilis was 
less, and therefore she was the more inclined both to 
analyse and to question him. But her occasional lapses 
into puzzled thoughtfulness were few and unnoticed. 
The time passed lightly — easily — as it invariably did in 
Number Two, Quality Corner. 

Later, when standing alone with Basset for a mo- 
ment on the doorstep, Cassilis spoke of the drawing. 

* I feel,' he said, ' that I owe you an explanation. 
But I can give none. It is true that I was in Bramsall, 
in that street, on that night ; and I asked the time of 
Mr. Parfitt as he passed. I had no particular reason 
for asking the time. I was much troubled, and spoke 
vaguely — unthinkingly — as men do when flung out of 
their ordinary grooves of thought. More than this I 
do not wish to say.' 

' My dear Cassilis, I desire no explanation. A friend- 



246 Quality Corner 

ship is slight indeed if, like a house of cards, a stran- 
ger's breath can blow it down. Parfitt is a fool, and I 
should be another if I heeded him.' 

' You are most generous.' 

' Not so. But I hope I am reasonable. And I de- 
cidedly object to the neighbourliness of the Comer 
being disturbed by a stranger who will soon be gone 
from among us — the sooner the better. Forget him, 
as I do. Good-night ! ' 



CHAPTER XXVI 

FOR a time life flowed on much as usual in Quality 
Corner. The August heat gave place to August 
rain — stormy showers that swept along the ground, 
pursued by the swift wind. 

On these wild grey days Basset increased his fires 
and his guests ; Cassilis, Emily Damton, and Tony 
Occleston dining at Number Two about four evenings 
a week, together with other contingents from Outwood 
and Woffendale. Herries too came over once or twice, 
and seemed fairly content with his reception. He re- 
newed his invitation to Cassilis with marked friendli- 
ness, so that the latter went to Wandesleys, staying the 
night, when he and his host sat and talked amicably 
over a blazing fire while the rain beat on the old mull- 
ioned windows. He liked Herries ; it w^as something 
to grasp another friendly hand. At that time Cassilis 
was possessed by a feverish desire to throw himself as 
much into the life of the Comer as possible, living as it 
were wholly in each hour, resolutely ignoring both past 
and future. 

During these days Number Four was the one house- 
hold in the Corner not entirely at ease. It w-as not un- 
happy, for no household can be considered unhappy 
that is concocting mischief. But its calm was ruffled. 
Rudell, though determined to question June Heald 
respecting her missing lodger, yet felt that his action 
in the matter would be disapproved by Basset. On 

247 



248 Quality Corner 

the other hand, Parfitt was annoyed by his brother-in- 
law's silence; while Mrs. Rudell, keeping the peace 
between the two, felt thoroughly angry with everyone 
concerned — most of all with Thea, who, as the primary 
cause of Parfitt's resolve to produce the drawing and 
tell his tale, was of course to blame for everything. 

* Like the man who drew his bow at a venture, I 
have evidently made a lucky shot,' Mark observed one 
day to his sister, ' only I am not allowed to know the 
full extent of my achievement. I'm glad I shall soon 
be off to town. I could not stand much more of this. 
But I should like to see the result of my shot before I 
go.' 

' I do not believe you will,' replied Susette irritably. 
* Mr. Basset is quite offended that any one should 
dream of finding fault with Dr. Cassilis, nobody pays 
any attention to what you say, and the sole result is 
that the Corner is disagreeable to me.' 

Mark glanced at her and smiled. ' You were as 
desirous as I that my story should be told.' 

' Yes, but I thought the effect would be different.* 

' If we could always be sure of the effect of our 
actions life would lose its unexpectedness, and would 
cease to be as amusing as it is.' 

' Do you find it amusing ? ' 

* Certainly. Everything is amusing more or less. 
There is even a little amusement to be got out of 
baiting Cassilis ; therefore I wish to make the most 
of it.' 

At this moment Rudell came into the room and 
Parfitt turned to him : 

' Look here, what is all this mystery about Cas- 
silis?' 



J 



A Study of Remorse 249 

* You should know best, since it was you who 
started it.' 

' I ? — I merely remark that I saw him ten years ago 
and produce a drawing of him, and you bolt off to old 
Basset with a face of as much importance as though 
you had found the missing heir to a million. Since 
then you have appeared lost in meditation over some 
stupendous discovery. Considering that I am the 
pioneer, you might be a trifle more communicative.' 

* Merely a curious coincidence that I thought I 
would mention to Basset.' 

' It is more than that,' rejoined Mark, staring hard 
at his brother-in-law, ' and I want my share of the 
fun. I declare I thought Cassilis was the chap that 
suicided. Queer thing to pick him up again here.' 

' Not unusual. If you have met a man once you 
are very likely to meet him again.' 

Parfitt yawned. ' Has old Basset taken offence on 
behalf of his favourite? We don't seem to be invited 
to dine there as often as formerly.' 

' We are all three asked for to-morrow,' said his 
sister. 

' Oh, will Cassilis be there ? ' 

' He is dining at Outwood, I believe,' said Rudell. 

' Ah, Basset's arrangement, I suppose. Or his own.' 

' I do wish, Mark,' exclaimed Mrs. Rudell, ' that 
you would talk of something or somebody else. I 
am quite tired of Dr. Cassilis.' 

So no more was said at that time. 

Towards the end of August June Heald, having 
been married in Woffendale as Jane Stanham, widow, 
to Abel Gresty, widower, returned to the farm as its 
mistress ; the bridegroom remarking of his wedding as 



250 Quality Corner 

he sat down to a heavy tea in the best parlour, that 
' it wur a load off his mind, an' happen th' weather 
'ud take up a bit now.' 

To which cordial assent was given by Mr. and 
Mrs. Stretton, who had been invited to welcome the 
bride home. 

The weather did ' take up.' September came with 
misty gold radiance of sunshine, and veiling sparkle 
of gossamer on the hedgerows. 

One shimmering morning June Gresty, throwing 
meal to the ducks, saw Rudell coming up to the farm, 
and recognised him instantly. This gave her an ad- 
vantage, for she thereby had time to decide on a plan 
of action while he was endeavouring to trace in the 
fresh comely woman before him, the worn haggard 
girl he had seen in Bramsall ten years ago. 

' Mrs. Stanham, I think,' he said stopping at the 
gate. 

' No, sir. My name is Gresty.' 

* Ah, I beg pardon. But at one time it was Stan- 
ham.' 

' My first husband's name, sir.' 

' And then you lived in Bramsall.' 

' Yes, sir.' 

Rudell paused for a moment. 

' When there you gave evidence at an inquest on 
a gentleman who lodged with you, Mr. Thorold. 
There was another gentleman lodging with you at the 
time. Dr. Cassilis.' 

' Sir,' replied June, looking calmly at him, ' I mind 
well seeing yo' at th' inquest, an' I reckon yo' mind 
hearing a' I said. I have naught more to say, sir. 
An' I dunnot know as I care o'er much to speak o' 



A Study of Remorse 251 

a time that wur as full o' trouble as a wasp's nest o' 
stings.' 

' I am aware,' said Rudell, ' that Dr. Cassilis was 
in the house on the night of Mr, Thorold's death, for 
my brother-in-law happened to walk down the street 
and saw him at the window.' 

' I ha' no more to say, sir, than what I said then.' 

' But, my good woman, you distinctly stated that 
your other lodger had left, yet Dr. Cassilis himself 
acknowledges that he was in Bramsall that night. I 
am intending to make further enquiries.' 

' Very well, sir.' 

June's unmoved serenity rather puzzled Rudell. He 
had expected her to be disconcerted, which she em- 
phatically was not. 

' What was your reason, Mrs. Gresty, for saying 
that Dr. Cassilis had left, when he was there ? ' 

' Dr. Cassilis's name wur never mentioned, sir. I 
spoke o' my other lodger.' 

' But Dr. Cassilis was your other lodger.' Rudell 
said this hoping to entrap June into the admission, for 
he was not sure of the identity of the lodger and 
Cassilis. The latter might have been staying at another 
house in the street. 

June, however, continued speaking as though she 
had not heard. 

' An' as fur Bramsall an' everything as happened 
there, I've no mind to be speaking on't. I've for- 
gotten a deal, an' I mean to forget a' as I can. If so 
be as yo' wish to ask th' old questions o'er again, sir, 
th' answers '11 be th' same as they wur then. Yo'U 
excuse my saying as I'm busy, there's a mort o' work 
to be done on a farm.' 



2^2 Quality Corner 

Here June threw the remainder of the meal to the 
ducks, and saying gravely, ' Good-day, sir,' disap- 
peared indoors. 

Now Rudell could have asked a good many more 
questions, and would have done so had not the thought 
of Basset's objections restrained him during the inter- 
view. He did not wish to quarrel with his old friend. 
And after all, he had gained the knowledge that June 
was here to be questioned further whenever he felt 
inclined. 

' It is a good position she has taken up,' he mused 
as he went back, * one from which it will be difficult to 
dislodge her. If she were in the witness-box ! But 
the most one can do now is to make a few private 
enquiries. I wish Basset would hear reason. She did 
not deny that Cassilis and the missing lodger were one 
and the same. Of course they are the same ! I have 
a great mind to ask Cassilis if she was his landlady. 
Basset will make a fuss about it if he hears. He'll say 
it is not fair. But ' 

And Rudell walked slowly home, reflecting. 

June Gresty also reflected. She was grateful to 
Cassilis for past acts of kindness, and felt concerned 
that his name should thus be brought up in connec- 
tion with his friend's death, which she knew had 
been a great blow to him, and was, she could see, a 
painful memory now. She was an intelligent woman 
too, and understood the professional injury he would 
suffer if sinister rumours were spread abroad in Ring- 
way. 

' That Mr. Rudell's nigh ready to say as he killed 
poor Mr. Thorold,' she thought, recalling the argu- 
ments at the inquest as to whether it was suicide or 



A Study of Remorse 253 

accident, and Rudell's suspicious attitude then. June 
recollected too seeing Parfitt walk past her house that 
night. She had looked out on hearing his footsteps, 
thinking it might be her husband returning. ' I 
shouldna ha' thowt a gentleman would ha' gone 
about to make mischief like yon ! ' she murmured to 
herself as she cooked Gresty's dinner. Her anger with 
the artist was great and she shrewdly suspected his 
motive, farmer Gresty having naturally told her the 
gossip of the town. 

There is a Spanish tale of a student who swallowed 
a poisoned love-philtre and straightway imagined him- 
self to be made of glass. The inhabitants of every 
country town reverse the story. They believe them- 
selves normally opaque, but are as clearest crystal to 
the eyes of those around them ; their hopes — plans — 
all as distinctly visible to their fellows as the changes 
of the leaf, the sparkle of the snow. 

Therefore Ringway was perfectly aware that Mark 
Parfitt had thought of marrying Basset's adopted 
daughter, that Herries had returned and meant to try 
his fortune again, that Tony Occleston also cherished 
vague hopes. Finally, Ringway suspected Cassilis of 
similar dreams, but in this case gossip was uncertain 
whether he dreamt of Thea Basset or Emily Darnton. 
To all this June had listened with interest, an interest 
which deepened when she discovered what Cassilis had 
never surmised for an instant, the identity of Dorothea 
Basset with the child Dolly Thorold of whom her 
father had spoken so lovingly during his fatal sojourn 
in Bramsall. 

' O' course Miss Thea's name isna Basset,' Gresty 
had said, ' but folks call her so. Hoo wur left wi'out 



254 Quality Corner 

either mother or father ; ' and he proceeded to explain 
how her father had been a friend of Basset's, and how 
Basset had consequently adopted the child. ' An' I 
mind Mr. Thorold well. He stayed i' Quality Corner 
many a toime. It wur a pity he went an' poisoned 
hissen by accident. I reckon Miss Thea's as loike him 
as two peas, barring th' eyes an' her being a bit pale.' 
Then June knew and looked at Thea with extreme 
interest when she chanced to come down to the farm 
one day with Basset. The little tricks of gesture that 
had so often reminded Cassilis of his dead friend were 
all recognised by June. As the weeks went by, she 
wondered whether gossip spake truly, whether Cassilis 
wished to marry Thorold's daughter, whether he was 
aware of her being that daughter, and whether the 
marriage would take place. To June's eyes it seemed 
a very suitable one. In her gratitude she was glad 
to think that Cassilis might have a smooth and 
happy life. A woman more talkative would prob- 
ably have mentioned the fact of Thorold's child 
living in Quality Corner, but June's northern reserve 
had been increased by her life of repression in 
Bramsall. She quietly looked on. Rudell's questions 
now disturbed her. She realised that if Parfitt were 
a rival, he could certainly injure Cassilis by exciting 
suspicion that he was concerned in Thorold's death. 
It now seemed a pity, June thought, that she had 
said Cassilis had gone away, when he had been in 
the house that night. But she had done it beHeving 
that if he were obliged to return to Bramsall for the 
inquest he would lose all chance of the appointment 
he so much desired, and she had seen enough of his 
poverty to comprehend how vital a thing the chance 



A Study of Remorse 255 

was to him. Hearing nothing, she had supposed all 
well, till from Cassilis himself this summer she learnt 
that fever had snatched away his chance, and almost 
his life ; and that when barely recovered he had re- 
turned to know what had happened, and had found 
only an empty house. Still, had Parfitt not come to 
Ringway all would now have been well with Cassilis. 
And all might yet be well. Thus pondering, June 
resolved that having said he had gone before that 
night, she would still say so; or rather, she would 
still keep silence unless Cassilis desired her to speak. 
But chiefly she hoped to hear no more of the matter 
and therefore mentioned it to none. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

BUT presently a breath of suspicion went abroad 
during these September days. Did Parfitt first 
whisper it ? The rumour grew. People said Dr. Cassilis 
had done something in the past. What was it ? No one 
knew; therefore the whisper was the more ominous. 
The secret had been discovered by Mr. Rudell; that 
was why the doctor was not now invited to Number 
Four. The tale reached Outwood, where George Oc- 
cleston received it with derision, questioned Basset, 
and on hearing the origin of the story, scoffed the 
more. 

' I never heard such rubbish in my life,' he declared 
to his wife. ' A pity Rudell has not more sense. As 
for Parfitt, I never liked him any more than Basset 
did. We were right. It is very unpleasant for Cas- 
silis. I am extremely sorry. Not that I think the 
report will seriously injure him. When Parfitt has 
gone, the tale will die away if Rudell does not keep 
it up; and he will hardly do that in the face of Bas- 
set's opposition.' 

' It is very awkward,' said Mrs. Occleston slowly. 
' Dr. Cassilis owns to having been there when Mr. 
Thorold died.' 

' For which reason I am convinced Rudell's sus- 
picions are perfectly groundless ; otherwise Cassilis 
would have denied it.' 

' There is the portrait, you see.' 
256 



A Study of Remorse 257 

* That proves nothing. He could have said Parfitt 
had done it lately.' 

' But having owned so much, why does not Dr. Cas- 
silis say more ? ' 

' Probably hard up, as Anthony suggests. No man 
likes to talk about his poverty to strangers, and after 
all, we are strangers.' 

' We know nothing whatever about him,' murmured 
Mrs. Occleston, still thoughtfully. 

' Anybody can see what the man is,' replied her 
husband. * I'll ask Herries' opinion. You'll find he 
will agree with me.' 

' I dare say. But I have once or twice fancied that 
Dr. Cassilis admires Thea.' 

' Well, what if he does ? There will be time enough 
to make further inquiries if he says anything. Be- 
sides, she would not take him. It would be a poor 
match for her.' 

' That is a consideration just worth nothing at all.' 

' Oh well, you'll see things will adjust themselves 
somehow. They generally do. But I shall not ask 
Parfitt here again, and I shall give Rudell a little ad- 
vice. Lawyers seldom get any, and they need it more 
than most men.' 

' It is all very awkward,' repeated Mrs. Occleston, 
still pondering. 

There were others who recognised the awkwardness 
of the situation. Ringway was rapidly dividing into 
two camps, the believers in Cassilis and the non- 
believers. Old Sol Ingers, to whose ears the tale came 
soonest, opened his snuff-box, took a pinch with great 
deliberation ; then snapping the lid before the fingers 
of the tale-bearer could insert themselves, demanded: 



258 Quality Corner 

' Dost tha' keep thy bonds fro' picking an' stealing, 
lad?' 

' Ay, I do,' indignantly. 

' Then keep thy tongue fro' lying an' slandering 
too.' 

But the old seedsman knew well how such reports 
travel and how they affect Hfe in a country place. It 
was with real concern that he set himself, as far as in 
him lay, to silence the insidious whisper. Happily there 
were many others who ignored it ; one being the eccen- 
tric Mr. Pugh, who, with well-meaning coarseness, 
sent for Cassilis and told him the rumour. 

' Not as I believe it,' said Mr. Pugh sturdily, ' but 
folks as believe the world is round '11 believe anything. 
You take my advice, doctor, and bring an action 
against Rudell and Parfitt.' 

' The latter will be leaving soon. It is hardly worth 
while,' Cassihs replied, conscious that Pugh meant well, 
but still more conscious of a desire to throw him 
through his own window. 

' I dunno about its not being worth while. It 's 
always worth while to bring an action against a man 
who can pay, especially when he's a stranger. You 
see, a jury'll not be so likely to back him up. You're 
pretty sure to win if you've got any show of right on 
your side, and you certainly have. I don't mind lend- 
ing you a trifle towards law-expenses,' added Mr. Pugh 
magnanimously. 

* You are most kind, but I think not,' and Cassilis 
rose to go. 

' Now you think over it,' said Mr. Pugh. ' I'm a 
business man and my advice is good. It's never any 
use to knuckle under. Folks think you're afraid. If 



rj;wi'i'-i'f=5^jtjjt!SSi,Tu*iiJU»r.'»».i-i 



A Study of Remorse 259 

a man said I'd done summat queer in times past I'd 
make him prove his words or pay for 'em. Yon 
think over it. I hear you dined over there last night,' 
indicating Outwood. 

' Yes.' 

' He's not a bad sort — Occleston, I mean,' Mr. Pugh 
continued. ' If he'd hear reason about them keepers, 
and beat his guns into pruning-hooks, and do away 
with them rabbits and things, and ' 

' Be a totally different man to what he is,' sug- 
gested Cassilis. 

* Well, yes,' complacently. ' I reckon we all need 
improvement. But it's summat to have a chap like 
that to stand by you.' 

Here Cassilis perceived that Pugh was impressed 
by the fact of Occleston remaining friendly. 

' You make yon Parfitt pay comfortable damages 
as you can lay by,' Pugh went on, ' and don't think o' 
leaving the place. You set still and put his money 
in your pocket. That's the sensible way o' taking 
things.' 

' Do people think I am leaving ? ' CassiHs enquired, 
rather startled. 

' Well, they do and they don't. Some on 'em think 
it's likely. Don't you make that mistake. Put some 
o' Parfitt's cash in your pocket, and everyone '11 be 
backing you up. That's human nature that is,' ob- 
served Mr. Pugh reflectively. ' And besides, since the 
Woffendale folk are fools enough to pay the chap for 
them pictures, you may as well get hold o' some o' 
the money and keep it in the place so to speak. That's 
my opinion, and I'm a business man.' 

Cassihs went home considerably surprised. He 



260 Quality Corner 

had long perceived the shrewdness that lay beneath 
his patient's eccentricities, but Pugh's attitude towards 
himself was unexpected. 

That attitude resulted from two feelings of which 
Cassilis had little knowledge ; the clannish dislike of 
a passing stranger, and an equally sincere liking for 
Cassilis himself. Pugh had found his doctor an un- 
wearied listener who never agreed with him. Let 
anyone pause for a moment, and he will see how 
unique and cheering is this combination. Had 
Cassilis agreed with Pugh's theories, Pugh would 
have scorned him. Here it may be observed that 
very few theorists really desire to convert the world 
to their way of thinking, for in that case their amuse- 
ment would vanish. What they enjoy is the social 
racket they create. They desire to draw attention 
to themselves, and there is no easier method of doing 
that than by posing as teachers. We can all teach 
something, even if it is only some new way of making 
a fool of oneself. Pugh had derived great pleasure 
from the perpetual effort to convert Cassilis to his 
views, and he was grateful. He showed his gratitude 
in the manner natural to him. Delicacy he had none. 
It seemed a reasonable and friendly act to men- 
tion the report, and to offer advice as to the best 
way of dealing with it. The effect upon Cassilis was 
one of mingled anger and astonishment. Presently, 
as he walked home, the anger died. However offen- 
sive Pugh might be, his intention in so speaking was 
friendly. The warning did not fall on ears wholly 
unprepared for it, yet the shock was a tolerably 
severe one. Cassilis felt that heart-chill of coming 
loss of work that only the worker knows; the ice- 



Ijti^iimmmf^rrs 



if<Si',VA':---.fKSi'-fri'fn!--' 



A Study of Remorse 261 

touch that tells of the nearing frost, the pitiless 
whisper in the shrinking ear : — ' Soon you will have 
nothing to do. You will earn nothing. The old 
times once more ! The long sick days. The long 
shivering nights. The empty cupboard, and its winter 
companion the well-nigh fireless grate. The boots 
that let in wet and snow and stiffening rheumatism. 
The thin garments that will not keep out cold. The 
curious perpetual exhaustion arising from insufficient 
food. The mocking sunshine and the bitter cold. 
All the whole year's sickening, infuriating, infernal 
round.' 

Here CassiHs recalled a peculiarly enraging mem- 
ory; the bodily and mental pain caused by the smell 
of the next-door dinner in those days. He laughed 
as the vivid recollection swept over him, but the laugh 
was not joyous. There is a woeful lack of dignity 
about starvation. Hold up a scalded finger and sym- 
pathy will be general. But say your stomach has been 
too long half-empty to permit the rest of you to work 
well, and in the eyes of your listeners you will see the 
profound — pity ? oh no, the contempt they feel for you. 
Modern wise men will tell you that physical pain is 
soon forgotten ; which simply means that those same 
wise men have never suffered any pain, or else have no 
memories. The recollection or otherwise of bodily 
pain depends, like all recollections, on the sort of 
memory possessed by the sufferer. To James Cassilis 
had been given a memory of singular tenacity. He 
recalled perfectly his varied sensations during that 
time of penury ; and recalling them, hated equally the 
memory and himself. 

That night he got out the little model from its 



262 



Quality Corner 



resting-place, and set it on the table before him. The 
irony of fate! Or to speak more truly, the conse- 
quences of his own failure. Had he but kept instinc- 
tively to that narrow sword-path of right, wherein 
the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err; that 
simple code of honour that a child may understand ; he 
would not now have been a hunted remorseful man. 

For a few minutes he pondered Mr. Pugh's sug- 
gestion. The advice was good ; but like most advice, 
it had the slight drawback of being impossible to fol- 
low. To bring an action against Parfitt would be to 
condemn himself. How explain his apparent flight? — 
the concealment of his having been in the house? 

' Rudell suspects me,' he muttered, ' of doing that 
which I did not do. But is it any blacker than the thing 
I did?' 

Had the case been that of another man he could 
have answered the question. But as he himself was 
the criminal, he found no reply to it, but sat and 
looked at the accusing model till the dawn glimmered 
over Ringway. 






CHAPTER XXVIII 

THUS, despite the championship of Basset, the 
friendship of the Occlestons, the sturdy backing 
of Sol Ingers ; softly, surely as the falling leaves, so 
fell on Cassilis the conviction that he must go — must 
leave this cloud shadowed country that had dazzled his 
eyes with so fair a rainbow. Even though that rain- 
bow had well-nigh faded, he yet desired to linger 
awhile in this elfin corner of the workaday world; to 
linger at least till fate drove him out. 

For the glamour of the north-west was very strong 
just then. It had flung o& its habitual garments of 
ash-colour and emerald, and all the woods were 
tawny-orange and scarlet, and the air like wine. In 
the shining late September days, with their misty 
dawns, their blue warmth of noon, their fragrance of 
mignonette and moss and dry stubble, their exquisite 
chill as the mist returned at sunset, their shimmering 
moonlit nights — in all these changing hours Cassilis 
seemed to traverse the whole range of feeling; to 
understand how much there was to lose in life. He 
enjoyed himself with the savage enjoyment of the 
man who knows how soon all enjoyment will cease. 
He despaired with equal savagery. He scofled too 
at his own enjoyment and his own despair. He 
even criticised both at times, with that habit of the 
bystander that had become second nature to him. It 

263 



264 Quality Corner 

struck him now and then that the amount of knowl- 
edge he was acquiring was out of all proportion to 
its usefulness. But he was not asked whether or no 
he would read this chapter of the Dark Fairy-tale. 
There were the pages before his eyes, not to be 
passed over; pages that he meant to have been 
written so differently. Perhaps the reading was 
hardest at dawn, that most terrible hour of the 
twenty-four; the time when all the powers of life are 
at their fullest, when the vision is clearest, the pulse- 
beats strongest, and all life is as crystal to the sight 
of spirit and soul and body. As the square of the 
window changed from black to blue, then paled to 
white and warmed to saffron, Cassilis, watching it, 
thought of the Greek Aurora and laughed in mockery. 
Aurora ? — a children's fancy ! Whatever the day- 
break may be in Greece, here in the strong north the 
dawn is a Valkyria, and she bears a javelin. Yon- 
der in the east is the white gleam of the steel. The 
wind rises, that wind of the dawn that seems to 
blow unlike any other. Through the air come the 
poignant notes of the waking birds — calling — calling, 
and the throbs of the waking heart answer them. 
All the world responds to that javelin touch of light; 
which, like the spear of the Sagas, slays and renews 
life, pierces and invigorates, at one and the same 
time. 

Cassilis got somehow through the dawns, the noons, 
the nights ; got through his daily work ; as people do, 
even with Heaven and Hell raging within them ; talked 
and laughed, jested and looked round on all things 
with the eyes of one condemned. Before very long- 
he would see these things no more. He said ' things ' 



jlAM»^gwj^yjj^»gg?2^ 



A Study of Remorse 265 

when speaking to himself; he could not say these 
' people.' 

Yet was there a singular tenacity about him in 
that he had no thought of seeking death or of giving 
in. He meant to go on through the years of his life 
as he had done before he drifted into Ringway. Re- 
morse had smitten him into endurance. Though 
neither in this world nor in the next was there anything 
to hope for, he prepared to face again the wandering, 
the loneliness, the insignificance that would become 
more intolerable as he grew older and as time went on. 

There was also much else that he was prepared 
to face. The sum he had paid for this Ringway 
practice was literally all that he had. He would 
start life again with a few pounds. Doubtless he 
could have sold the practice again, but he could not 
bring himself to bargain over it. In truth, the hesi- 
tation that had undone him again rose to the surface 
in this matter. He could not take the irrevocable 
step that would banish him. He told himself he 
would go suddenly — some night — leaving farewell 
letters to Basset and others who had been his friends. 
He would not sell the practice. It should be his to 
the last moment. Of course, all this was folly, the 
greater folly because he knew right well the value of 
every sixpence he was throwing away ; knowledge 
possessed only by those who have now and then had 
but a sixpence between them and destitution. Yet is 
such folly wholly foolishness? Cassilis had none de- 
pendent on him. He was free to return to the hell of 
poverty from which he had escaped. 

To return to it. He thought a good deal about 
that return as September melted into October. There 



0.66 Quality Corner 

is monotony in repeating unpleasant experiences. It 
is only pleasant things that vary. No two pearl-white 
dawns are quite alike, no two rose-scarlet sunsets ; and 
the blue gloom of one wonderful night is not the blue 
gloom of the next, though equally lovely and alluring. 
But the mud that you trudge through and the stinging 
sleet that cuts your face, are the same to-day as they 
were yesterday and will be the same to-morrow and 
always. 

Of course poverty has its uses. It is not exactly 
the forcing-house of those convenient virtues of meek- 
ness and resignation that most good and respectable 
people believe it to be. Indeed, its moral instruction 
may be considered doubtful. But it teaches lots of 
other things and teaches them thoroughly. It is a 
better school than Squeers' establishment. The educa- 
tional effect of ' w-i-n-d-e-r, window, go and clean 
it,' is nothing to that of ' w-o-l-f, wolf, go and fight 
it.' One carries the scars of the fight to one's death 
and probably after, but one never forgets what one has 
learnt in that struggle. One never throws away one's 
blows again ; one knows how to plant them where each 
will tell. Whether the instruction is worth the cost of 
learning is another matter. Some preliminary quali- 
fication is needed to make a thoroughly good scholar. 
You must first have been Dives before you become 
Lazarus. Then by the time your training is finished 
you will be not only able, but thoroughly willing, to 
smite impartially both Dives and Lazarus, and to 
waste no sentiment upon either. For does not the first 
look a fool in his purple robes ? And is not the second 
loathsome? And you know you have been both your- 
self, which makes you hit the harder. 



Bjgj3^g»gjj|Wj^gjjJjjj^ 



A Study of Remorse 267 

There are two passions that will curb this abiding 
ferocity caught from and characteristic of the wolf — 
Remorse and Love. That Cassilis had developed 
little of the wolf's savagery was owing to his having 
been under the dominion of the first feeling. As for 
the second, that holds out a cup of so strong wine 
that whosoever drinks, remembers his misery no 
more. But from this he was withheld by the strong 
coil of fate that he himself had twisted. It was a 
more complicated knot than he knew, but even as he 
saw it the interlacing was more than enough to 
destroy all hope of disentanglement being possible. 
Again and again Cassilis went over the miserable 
incidents of that fatal night. If only he had spoken 
while yet there was time. Spoken? — a gesture would 
have been enough. If only he had not gone away. 
' It was the fever that already held me,' whispered 
the self-defending spirit within. But he knew right 
well that there are men whose instinctive honour no 
fever could shake. And that there are others — more 
numerous these — whose ordinary common-sense would 
not forsake them, though their honour might be non- 
existent. 

* I was not only a traitor, but a fool,' he said to 
himself one misty October dawn, ' and above all, I 
am a failure — a stupendous one. I meant to be high- 
minded, and for meanness I should be hard to beat.' 
Here he laughed a little. ' I meant also to succeed 
in life, and I see before me ignominious starvation ; 
not that of the besieged soldier holding his own, but 
that of the tramp in the ditch — and I deserve it.' 



CHAPTER XXIX 

CASSILIS did not read this chapter of his Dark 
Fairy-tale alone. The whole Corner was en- 
gaged in either trying to decipher it, or in averting too 
keen eyes, and neither occupation was exhilarating. 
Yet, how could the Corner help itself? The fault 
was Parfitt's, who had accidentally come into posses- 
sion of a leaf and held it up for all to see. Basset 
and Tony Occleston ignored the matter from friend- 
ship to Cassilis, Susette Rudell from sheer boredom ; 
while Emily Darnton, Rudell, and Parfitt tried to 
read the tale, their reasons being different, Thea? 
Well, she neither tried to read nor turned her eyes 
away, but looked at what came before her vision and 
pondered. 

Slowly as the deeper tints of October coloured the 
country-side, a faint shadow crept over the Corner; a 
sense of division — of strife. 

* We seem to be playing a perpetual game of puss- 
in-the-corner,' Emily remarked one day when she and 
Thea were alone together. ' Our thoughts are ab- 
sorbed in planning how to visit each other without 
the Rudells and Dr. CassiHs meeting. It is really be- 
coming monotonous, and I feel that our habitual cheer- 
fulness is giving way under the strain. All this 
merely because Dr. Cassilis was once poor and living 
in a dingy street ! What nonsense it is ! ' 

* Yes, it is nonsense,' echoed Thea abstractedly. 

268 



wi.'«.k'»itM-'^.— -■!■" 



-.miA 



A Study of Remorse 269 

' Tony says it is rubbish and Number Four ought 
to be ashamed/ Emily went on. ' I believe in Tony. 
Is there not an acid to test gold? Tony is my acid. 
I often test people by his opinion of them. He knows 
instinctively whether they are gold or parcel-gilt.' 

' And don't you ? ' 

' I am not sure.' Emily paused. * This is October, 
is it not? Then the Bishop will soon be back. Just 
now I am more interested in the Bishop than in any- 
body else.' 

'Really?' 

* Really. He will restore cheerfulness to the Corner 
if he comes. If not, I shall meet him at Outwood. 
Mary is a sensible woman and will invite him when I 
wish.' 

* I will make Daddy invite him when you wish. 
You know he is already pledged to one dinner. Are 
you serious ? ' 

' Perfectly. I admire the Bishop. The Bishop ad- 
mires me. It would be a pity to allow such commend- 
able feeling to die away for want of a little encourage- 
ment.' 

' It would indeed,' replied Thea gravely, with amuse- 
ment in her eyes. ' Daddy and I will exert ourselves 
on your behalf, though Outwood has advantages over 
the Corner in that it provides strolls along the terrace 
and beside the mere. 

' The Bishop has got beyond strolling on terraces,' 
said Emily with decision. ' He needs comfort. A 
good dinner would be more to the purpose, and Mr. 
Basset can give that.' 

* But are you really in earnest ? ' Thea asked this 
half incredulously. 



ayo Quality Corner 

' I think so. I am too modern to take life as it 
chooses to present itself. I prefer to arrange my exist- 
ence. Perhaps I may not like the Bishop when I see 
more of him. I will not for a moment entertain the 
thought that he may not like me ! But supposing 
that our mutual admiration continues, I believe I 
should find the episcopal palace more amusing as a 
permanent abode than Number Three, Quality Comer.' 

' Woffendale smoke and youthful curates,' remarked 
Thea. 

' I will mould the curates to better things. As for 
the smoke, I do not mind it. I am not an elfin crea- 
ture like you. That love of prowling about wild places 
is your only fault.' 

Thea rose. ' Will you come into the woods with me 
now? ' 

Emily shook her head. ' You know I cannot endure 
walking. Another point in favour of the Bishop — 
I could use the episcopal carriage. Why don't you 
drive ? ' 

* Along roads ? — made roads ? Not I. When I am 
old I can drive. Come! The day is lovely.' 

' I prefer to toast my toes and reflect on the Bishop. 
Take Ponto instead.' 

Ponto went instead. 

Something akin to Emily's dissatisfaction with the 
Corner was expressed by Susette Rudell to her hus- 
band. 

' I do wish, Gregory, that either Dr. Cassilis had 
never come, or that we had never asked Mark down 
here. You men are always quarrelling, and we women 
have to put up with the consequent unpleasantness. 
What is it all about? We shall end by losing clients 






A Study of Remorse 271 

through it, you will see. Everbocly seems to be taking 
part in it. I wish you would leave Mark to fight it 
out by himself. He began it with that stupid drawing 
of his, and nothing matters to him. He is not living 
here. Presently he will go away and leave all this 
fuss behind him, and this is all we shall gain by his 
visit. I thought he had more sense.' 

The exasperation of A'lark's sister was very natural, 
particularly as she had helped him to create the gen- 
eral disturbance ; and Rudell felt there was a good 
deal of truth in his wife's observations. He himself 
was not altogether pleased by the turn affairs were 
taking. 

' We cannot blame ourselves,' he said. ' Your 
brother has frequently been invited. If he had not 
come now, he would have been here some other time.' 

' Oh, I don't know that. Mark hates the country. 
Only his painting brought him down. I wish he had 
never got the commission, or that he had never shown 
that old drawing. Ten years ago too! And nobody 
seems to know exactly what all the fuss is about ex- 
cept yourself.' 

'Myself?' 

' Yes. Mark is right. You have discovered some- 
thing, and you will not say what it is. Is it going 
to do us any good ? ' 

' Not that I am aware of.' 

' Then I am sure you had better let it alone.' 

The same advice was oft'ered by Basset when he 
heard of the interview with June Gresty. 

' She is a sensible woman,' he said. ' Give it up, 
Rudell. That Cassilis purposely caused Thorold's 
death I will never believe. If by any unhappy chance 



I'^l Quality Corner 

he was concerned in the miserable mistake which 
killed our friend, what would it profit us to know it ? ' 

' There is our duty to Thorold.' 

' But is it our duty ? I regret that you should hold 
the popular idea of duty — to make life intolerable for 
somebody ; particularly if that somebody is in any way 
remarkable. I consider it a mistake to kick remarkable 
people into the gutter. They have a trick of getting 
up and hitting back a blow that echoes through the 
world.' 

' Not if you hit hard enough.' 

' Then they hit back in the next world, which is 
worse.' 

' The next world is a long way off,' said Rudell. ' I 
think I will risk the return buffet. Thorold was quite 
as remarkable a personality, more remarkable in fact. 
As I believe he was sent out of this life by Cassilis ' 

' My dear Rudell,' interrupted Basset, ' I cannot — 
will not believe it.' 

' Will not,' commented the other quietly. ' Pre- 
cisely. You will not. But to ignore the facts that 
have come to our knowledge would be simply absurd. 
I am struck by the singular — I may say, providential 
— manner in which Cassilis's presence there has been 
brought to light. My brother-in-law's sketch; made 
carelessly, kept as carelessly, preserved as it were by 
fate, and brought down here the summer of Cassilis's 
arrival. You must really pardon my perseverance in 
the affair. I intend asking him whether he lodged in 
Mrs. Stanham's house when Thorold was there.' 

' You will not ! ' 

* Why not ? The question is a legitimate one. I see 
you think him guilty.' 



A Study of Remorse 273 

* No, I do not. But I feel the meanness of endeav- 
ouring to entrap a man into an admission which may 
prove awkward for him, however innocent he may 
be.' 

In truth, Basset felt himself somewhat in the position 
of one from whom the hunted quarry craves sanctuary. 
Cassilis's frank acknowledgment that Parfitt's tale 
was true, and equally frank statement that he did 
not wish to say anything more, had appealed strongly 
to his host, who felt bound to stand by this stranger 
at his gates. And Basset was an adept at shutting eyes 
and ears when he so pleased. 

Rudell opened his snuff-box with great deliberation : 
' We lawyers are permitted that sort of meanness.' 
' No one can accuse your profession of neglecting 
to use the privilege,' said Basset. 
The snuff-box closed with a snap. 

* Basset, is it possible that we are quarrelling ? And 
about a stranger ? ' 

* If I have said too much, I apologise. But strangers 
have always been the cause of quarrelling. When 
we are young, the disturbing element is a woman or 
a horse. When we are old, it is a man or an invest- 
ment.' 

* Well,' getting up, * I shall be away for a fortnight 
on business, so Cassilis will liave a respite.' 

* When you return, you will at least let me know 
what you intend doing ? ' 

* Yes, I will let you know. I am convinced he was 
with Thorold. Ask him, and you'll see.' 

' I shall not do so,' said Basset. 
Now on this particular afternoon it so happened 
that Thea was sitting by the drawing-room fire, while 



274 Quality Corner 

the shadows gathered in the corners as the short day- 
died. She was so buried in cushions that the dancing 
flames only glimmered on a hand here, a jewel there, 
and in two deep shining eyes. The October air was 
chilly and the fire was not the little gipsy-fire of the 
summer, but a glowing pyre of burning logs, throw- 
ing up flickering tongues of amethyst and indigo, sea- 
green and sapphire — dream flames, unlike the hot hard 
blaze of coal. 

In those dream flames Dorothea Thorold saw again 
and again, each time more clearly, that page of the 
Dark Fairy-tale which Parfitt had held aloft and Cas- 
silis had partially explained. She did not in the least 
resent the very fragmentary explanation. What she 
resented was the fact that Cassilis himself seemed 
unable to control the situation. He took it calmly 
enough, bore himself well throughout; yet the un- 
deniable truth remained that he was powerless, or 
appeared to be powerless, to throw Parfitt, his 
drawings, his insolence, effectively and for ever into 
the background. Always she remembered that it 
was Herries, not Cassilis, who had checked Parfitt 
that night; and this failure is what no woman of 
strong feeling ever pardons. Sooner or later her 
thoughts will circle round this fatal flaw, and it is 
simply a matter of time before the man will be laid 
aside — gently and tenderly it may be, but still laid 
aside — amid the dolls of her childhood ; and regarded 
with the same amused wonder and the same tolerant 
memory. It may also happen that he who is thus 
laid aside may never know that he is but a little 
dearer than her dog. Nevertheless it is true all the 
same. 



A Study of Remorse 275 

Yet Thea would undoubtedly have married Cassilis 
had he asked her at this time. The mists of morning 
are not the clearest atmosphere in which to look on 
life. It is the hour of belief in others, of self-abnega- 
tion even when that belief has moments of warning 
doubt. The hour when it seems good to cast pearls 
before swine, or at best to bestow them in charity on 
some half-transformed follower of Comus,or shrivelled 
philosopher, or dwarf-souled bore. There are few of 
the daughters of men who have not occasion to say 
with the immortal Bottom : ' I have had a dream. 
Methought I was, and methought I had — but man is 
but a patched fool if he will offer to say what me- 
thought I had ! ' 

Not that Cassilis was ever either Comus-follower, 
dry philosopher, or bore. The fault in him was that 
element of unexpected weakness and indecision which 
seems inseparable from a complex character such as 
his. The crossing impulses are for a moment equally 
powerful, and so produce a temporary deadlock. 
What is needed is that some yet more powerful under- 
current of feeling should rise to the surface, and, 
bearing all before it, permanently control the stream 
of life. Failing this, there will surely be occasional 
deadlocks ; as in the instance of Cassilis. 

So, as Thea looked at the Dark Fairy-tale in those 
blue and violet flames, the scene which stood out 
most clearly was that in which Cassilis had failed to 
hold his own against another man. She did not 
concern herself about the reason. Had he but 
quelled Parfitt then, or beaten him subsequently, she 
would not have greatly troubled herself as to the right 
or wrong of the affair. That criticism comes later. 



276 Quality Corner 

But Cassilis's attitude in this matter disappointed her, 
and the disappointment was a grave one. Linked 
with it were pity and an instinctive desire to shield, 
passing naturally into anger against Parfitt — the cause 
of all this turmoil in the Corner. Also, a slight un- 
reasonable annoyance with Herries for having proved 
himself more capable of controlling an awkward 
moment than Cassilis. Over and above all these 
changing thoughts was the sense of pleasant com- 
panionship that Cassilis gave. Whether he was strong 
or weak, good or bad, he had undoubtedly the gift of 
being a peculiarly sympathetic comrade. Therefore, 
while idly watching those soft wood-flames that now 
deepened to indigo and glowed to violet, now shot 
up in vivid blue and fairy green, Thea recalled the 
many days and weeks of the past summer through 
which Cassilis's presence had seemed to sparkle like 
a gold thread running through the warp and woof of 
life. The Corner had been brightened by his coming, 
the Corner that now in these autumn days was divided 
against itself on his account. 

Sound is a curious thing. We say we understand 
it scientifically, which is merely a way of disguising 
our very considerable ignorance. If you sat by the 
drawing-room fire as Thea was doing, you could hear 
what was said by a person standing just outside the 
study door, which was across the hall and at the end 
of a short passage. Whereas if you stood in the 
hall, you would only hear a confused murmur. Old 
houses have many such tricks of sound. Thus it 
chanced that when Rudell, at the close of his con- 
versation with Basset, came out into the hall, his few 



A Study of Remorse 277 

last words were as distinctly audible to Thea as though 
he stood beside her. 

' I am convinced he was with Thorold. Ask him, 
and you'll see.' 

And Basset's voice replied. 

' I shall not do so.' 

These few words, as by a lightning flash, lit for 
Thea that dim page of the Dark Fairy-tale. She had 
of course known that Bramsall was the town in which 
her father had died ten years ago. She remembered 
him well, he had been the sort of man to be remem- 
bered by a child ; but of the manner of his death, and 
of the inquest, she had never heard. Therefore she 
had not dreamt of any connection between her father's 
fatal stay in Bramsall and the accident of Cassilis 
having been there at the same time. Yet Rudell's 
words came to her with the odd sense of having been 
understood before — long ago — at some remote period. 
Of course Cassilis had been with her father in his last 
illness. That was it. And in some way he was blamed 
for its fatal termination. Thea sat up indignantly 
among her cushions as this idea shot through her mind 
simultaneously with the closing of the street door 
behind Rudell. Then Basset's footstep came along the 
hall. 

' Daddy,' she said as he entered, * supposing that 
Dr. Cassilis was with my father, why should the 
whole Corner worry about it ? ' 

Basset stopped short. 

'How — ?' he began. Then he recollected the 
travelling of sound in the old house, and felt extreme 
vexation. 



278 Quality Corner 

' Rudell has a mistaken notion, my dear, that your 
father's hfe might have been saved had someone else 
been there. But we do not know that Dr. Cassilis 
ever saw your father. Rudell merely thinks so be- 
cause Parfitt saw him in the street at the time. Of 
course it does not fohow that he was in that house. 
Rudell wishes me to question him, but that seems to 
me both useless and impertinent. If Dr. Cassilis was 
there, I am sure he did his best. I might talk it over 
with him in a friendly way by-and-by. I am sorry 
you overheard Rudell's ill-judged remark.' 

Basset stopped and drew a long breath, hoping 
his god-daughter would not notice the exceeding lame- 
ness of his speech. 

' My dear Daddy,' she said, rising out of her chair 
and placing her hands upon his shoulders, ' it is you 
who are most troubled I believe, and that is not fair. 
Is there any reason to suppose my father was neglected 
in his last illness ? ' 

' No, certainly not. He died very suddenly indeed 
— so suddenly that there was no time for medical 
treatment. Heart failure,' added Basset, determined 
to say anything that would keep Thea from the know- 
ledge of the lawyer's suspicions. ' I tell Rudell so, but 
he thinks Dr. Cassilis had perhaps prescribed for him 
previously.' 

Here Basset paused again, bewildered by his own 
remarks. 

' But all this seems very vague,' said Thea, ' these 
ideas of Mr. Rudell's, I mean. Are they Mr. Parfitt's 
also?' 

' Oh no. No one save Rudell is thinking of your 
father. Other people are only prejudiced by Parfitt; 



A Study of Remorse 279 

who appears to be making a mystery out of nothing. 
In fact, my dear, it is all nonsense, and has vexed me 
very much.' 

' I see.' Thea was standing on the hearthrug, look- 
ing at the soft flickering sea-green flames that were 
momentarily changing to sapphire and back to green. 
Basset walked up and down the room two or three 
times, wondering what would be best to say next. 
Dorothea was the old bachelor's one interest in life. 
Her father and he, despite considerable difference in 
years, had been attached friends ; and on Thorold's 
death, it had seemed not only the most natural but 
the most pleasant arrangement possible to adopt the 
orphan child. Hitherto Basset had sheltered her from 
the frets and troubles and ugly incidents of life. 
Now ! For a moment even he was inclined to wish 
that Cassilis had never appeared in Ringway. Then 
he reproached himself for want of friendly feeling, 
and returned to the consideration of how to efface the 
impression of Rudell's unlucky words. 

' My dear, I hope you will not allow this very 
trivial disagreement in the Corner to overshadow you 
in any way. I really do not know why so much has 
been made of it. I am a little surprised at Rudell. ' 

Thea turned her gaze from the rainbow flames to 
her godfather. ' It seems to me,' she observed, ' that 
Dr. Cassilis is being v&vy unnecessarily and unreason- 
ably harassed.' 

' That is my own view,' replied Basset, relieved 
that she did not ask more questions about Bramsall. 
' I was saying so to Rudell just now.' 

' Well, as I am my father's sole descendant, surely 
the matter concerns me more than anyone else. So 



28o Quality Corner 

it is a mistake in courtesy for Mr. Rudell to — as it 
were — aid Mr. Parfitt; or at least, to trouble Dr. 
Cassilis without first consulting me. Is it not so ? ' 

* You are quite right, my dear. I will speak seri- 
ously to Rudell. I regret we have not looked at the 
affair in that light. We are much to blame.' 

' Then, Daddy, since you agree with me, we need 
not discuss it further, and you will, as far as possible, 
prevent others doing so ? ' 

' Certainly I will, my dear.' Basset's voice, uncon- 
sciously to himself, took the flatness of dismay. So 
long as Parfitt's remembrance of Cassilis and Parfitt's 
innuendoes were only being discussed by Rudell and 
himself, and talked over at Outwood, the affair had 
seemed a simple thing that might be checked, even 
though he knew rumours adverse to Cassilis had got 
abroad. Now that Thea was speaking of this disturb- 
ing influence, he suddenly perceived that it was not 
under his control. 

As Basset now saw the question, either nothing 
must be done and the matter allowed to drop, or Thea 
must be told the whole story and herself decide. It 
was clearly her right to say whether the manner of her 
father's death should again be the subject of enquiry. 
Well, there was no reason why she should not know 
about that accidental dose of poison. Basset wished 
with all his heart that he had told her long ago. But it 
had seemed a melancholy tale to tell a child of ten, and 
then the years had passed. Who would have antici- 
pated this return of the old grief, with its added con- 
fusion ? Not that Basset believed there was any prob- 
ability of Thea wishing to marry Cassilis. Time 
enough to deal with that unlikely contingency if it 



A Study of Remorse 128 1 

should arise. But her godfather did not desire her to 
be troubled by the shadow of that past grief. He mar- 
velled at himself in that he had not sooner perceived 
how any enquiry such as Rudell proposed to make was 
not Rudell's concern so much as Thea's. Basset re- 
solved by every means in his power to silence rumour 
and keep the lawyer quiet. After all, he thought more 
hopefully, it was chiefly Parfitt, who would soon be 
gone. 

' I am astonished at my own want of thought,' Bas- 
set continued. ' Of course I ought to have told Rudell 
that the whole thing was your business, not his.' 

' That was very natural. Daddy,' said Thea, smiling. 
* When people have known one as a child they seldom 
realise that one's childhood passes. I dare say you still 
think of me as the small person whom you so gener- 
ously brought here ten years ago.' 

* My dear, I am more than repaid. No, I do not 
regard you as a child. The explanation of my mis- 
taken attitude lies in the melancholy fact that the claims 
of those beside us are usually overlooked. Not inten- 
tionally it may be, but still overlooked.' 

' I certainly cannot complain of being overlooked. 
I do not recollect my most trifling whim having been 
left ungratified.' 

* That is different. People's whims are often grati- 
fied, their rights commonly ignored.' 

' Oh, Daddy, there is no need for such solemnity ! 
Tell Mr. Rudell to leave my family affairs to me, and 
let us be happy and cheerful again in the Corner as we 
used to be.' 

' So we will/ said Basset. 



CHAPTER XXX 

SO ended October. Rudell's absence was felt rather 
as a relief in Quality Corner, it seemed to slightly 
ease the friction. Parfitt was busy finishing his fresco, 
and announced his approaching departure; while Su- 
sette Rudell, wearied by the unsatisfactory develop- 
ment of her plans, accepted with tacit thankfulness the 
courtesies offered her by Numbers Two and Three. 

Basset cheered up, and hearing the Bishop of Wof- 
fendale was home again, invited him to dinner; care- 
fully choosing an evening on which he knew Parfitt 
and his sister would be engaged elsewhere. 

' Mr. Parfitt has a talent for disintegration,' Basset 
observed to his god-daughter. ' It is a gift that does 
not promote the success of a dinner-party. Therefore 
I will not risk the danger of his presence. I should 
really prefer the soup to be cold, if such a tragedy were 
possible at my table.' 

' We must have Emily,' said Thea, mindful of her 
friend's confidences concerning the Bishop. 

' Of course. And Cassilis. With George Occleston 
and his wife, Herries and Anthony, and some Woffen- 
dale people whom I wish to ask, we shall be about six- 
teen altogether. A convenient number.' 

That dinner of Basset's was a success, and the most 
unhappy guest present — Cassilis — enjoyed it most. 
His time was so short, the hounds so close upon him 
now, the wonderful wine of the autumn air, pressed 

282 



A Study of Remorse 283 

out from the dying leaves by sun and frost, running in 
his veins even as he himself seemed to be fleeing before 
his foes — all these mingled influences gave him the ex- 
hilaration of the man whose death-warrant is signed, 
whose execution is near and certain ; increasing his 
power of enjoyment, his tingling sense of life, till he 
wrung from every moment all that it could give him — 
whether of wild regret, or brief delight, or savage 
despair. 

So he enjoyed that evening at Basset's, enjoyed it 
all — all. He was the last of the guests to leave, his 
host having pressed him to linger: 

* You have not far to go, Cassilis. Down one step 
and up another.' 

He had lingered gladly. Then when he let himself 
into his own house, he turned into the chill dark con- 
sulting-room, and sitting down at the table, rested his 
head on his hands and recalled the light and warmth 
of the last few hours. 

Yes, he had enjoyed it all. The soft violet colour- 
ing of Basset's dining-room, the masses of dull red 
chrysanthemums among the sheen and glitter, the easy 
cultured conversation, the pleasant laughter. Thea 
too had worn chrysanthemums among her laces ; not 
red but tawny-petalled blooms, and with that same 
strange perfume that was pervading the autumn 
woods ; a scent hardly to be called sweet, slightly pun- 
gent, subtle, like dry old wine — penetrating and intox- 
icating. 

There was surely something in Basset's theories. 
Cassilis passed in thought back to the homely fragrance 
of the white pinks that had greeted him when first he 
entered Number Two. Then the flat nectarine-like 



284 Quality Corner 

scent of iris, the green earth-scents of moss and leaf- 
age, the dry scent of fern, the violet breath of mignon- 
ette, the spice perfume of carnation ; and now, at last, 
this odour of chrysanthemum and the winter woods ; 
not sweet, not to be distilled, but more heady — more 
powerful ; clinging to the blood like a fever. 

The night was fairly clear and the moon nearly at 
the full. By-and-by a ray of bluish moonlight slowly 
travelled across the room, shining in its transit on the 
bowed head of the man sitting at the table, a fairy 
radiance seeking him in the darkness ; hngering awhile, 
then passing away. Long Cassilis sat there, uncon- 
scious, in the seething revolt of his own spirit, of the 
gloom and the cold around him. Close at hand were 
many means of freeing. himself — so far as we know — 
from present pain. For instance, that almond-scented 
friend — enemy — which is it? — that brings such swift 
silence. But it was characteristic of him that never 
once did the idea enter his mind. His vitality was too 
strong, his imagination too vivid, his spirit too melan- 
choly, his capacity for enjoyment too intense, to per- 
mit him to slip lightly out of ' that excellent piece of 
workmanship,' his body. These sombre natures cling 
to life with greater tenacity than the lighter ones. They 
are born fighters — against themselves, against the 
world, against death. 

So the night wore on, a night so filled with moon- 
light that the only darkness was indoors. At length 
that unreal blue shimmering changed — seemed to van- 
ish even in its shining ; to melt into a wonderful lumi- 
nous pallor that grew and grew — not light in gloom, 
but light that turned the world to light. And Cassilis, 
roused by the whiteness that made all things visible, 



A Study of Remorse 285 

sprang to his feet with a smothered exclamation, and 
going upstairs, closed and locked his door, pulling the 
heavy curtains over the brightening window to shut 
out the terrible dawn which could not be shut out. 

The day that followed that dawn was still and lovely. 
The scarlet of earlier autumn had given place to the 
gold and russet of November. Even the very air had 
an aureate tinge, caught from the mellow sunshine and 
the yellow leaves that gilded the woods like the pages 
of an old missal. 

That afternoon Cassilis, walking home by Outwood 
Mere, passed through the fir plantation and stopped 
for a moment on the bridge. Beneath him the water 
was dark as ever in the shadow, and warm shining 
amber beyond, where the lake spread out below the 
terrace. His thoughts went back to that day in the 
summer when he had stood looking down into the black 
mirror as now. Then the place in its still beauty had 
seemed a haven of rest ; even that deep uncanny 
mere, the blessed water of Lethe. He understood the 
fairy north better now. Lethe ? No, Eunoe — Remem- 
brance ; and for him terrible remembrance. Rest ! — 
the seeming peace was elfin mockery. The place was 
unchanged, save from grey-greenness to the glow and 
light of autumn. The stillness was here too — a deeper 
hush than before, a silence that to Cassilis's fancy was 
almost menacing. 

He leant back over the parapet. A few yellow leaves 
floated on the dark glassy water. ' Fairy gold ! ' he 
said half aloud. ' My fairy gold. Withered leaves ! ' 
Yes, dead leaves on the black mere, that was all. It 
looked threatening too. What fate could one read in 
its sinister depths, as in a necromancer's crystal ? Cas- 



286 Quality Corner 

silis turned these fancies over in his mind, thinking 
them deHberately — clinging to these old world imagin- 
ings as pitiful spells wherewith to keep at arm's length 
the thoughts he feared to realise. 

Yet with all his efforts he must needs remember that, 
standing here, he had promised himself happiness ; had 
said he would forget the past, would enjoy the present ; 
and when death came, and after death the Judgment, 
at least he would have been happy for awhile. There 
was time for years — many years of happiness, and 
every hour of those years he could enjoy. He leant 
farther over the parapet, and looked at a patch of moss 
in a crack of the stone. How emerald it was ! He 
was vividly conscious of its colour as his thoughts 
whirled on. Enjoy? Yes! — every hour, every mo- 
ment he could enjoy; from east to west — from zenith 
to nadir — from heaven to hell ! A thousand years 
would not give time enough wherein to marvel at the 
powder on a moth's wing. Call it by any long-eared 
name you will, the mystery and beauty of that dust — 
and of other dust — remain the same. A thousand 
years too short in which to wonder over a flitting moth, 
so slight a thing! While as for the rest — for those 
other things not so slight? Whole waves of savagery 
swept over Cassilis's soul as he stood there, leaning 
over the black water. ' Why, this is hell, nor am I out 
of it,' he muttered, looking at the yellow leaves floating 
on the dark glassiness, and recalling the mighty line 
echoed by so many despairing spirits since it was writ- 
ten. * Nor am I out of it,' he repeated slowly, raising 
himself from his leaning position. 

Does the power to enjoy increase inversely to the 



■H!iaEiai!ga5»g3aas»wgiT0i»w»'' — a^ i »» ■ '' 



A Study of Remorse 287 

opportunities of enjoyment? Or is there truth in the 
Irish behef that something fatal — unlucky — goes with 
the possession of unusual gifts ? Surely the power to 
enjoy intensely is a gift indeed; or rather, a noble in- 
heritance. Cassilis thought himself poor yet possess- 
ing that rare heritage he was rich exceedingly, with a 
wealth that was the accumulation of centuries of 
wholesome-living forbears ; in short, the result of re- 
straint ; an inheritance which none but himself could 
destroy. He had not destroyed it, had not squandered 
this priceless possession. He had it in its fulness. 
Therefore, standing now on the old bridge, remorseful 
and despairing, hunted down, with exile and starvation 
waiting for him, it is difficult to say whether he was 
most to be pitied — or envied. 

He walked away through the fir plantation to the 
high road, where a horseman pulled up on seeing him. 
It was George Occleston. 

* Dine with us this evening,' he said, ' and would 
you care to join in a probable row afterwards, or would 
you consider it unprofessional? Herries and I and 
several more have arranged a regular battue. I have 
been nearly cleaned out by poachers lately, but we've 
got wind of a gang from Northover coming here to- 
night, so have planned a little surprise for 'em. Mean 
to beat 'em up and catch a few. Herries will be here, 
and several other fellows. I hear Parfitt is coming too. 
Not to dinner, but later with the Fenwicks. I suppose 
they invited him to join them. He might have waited 
till I asked him, I am tired of the fellow. Will you 
come ? ' 

After all, Cassilis was young, and few entertainments 



288 Quality Corner 

are better than one combining a good dinner, pleasant 
company, and a fight for dessert. Besides, why not 
enjoy to the last? The end was soon coming. 

He accepted with an alacrity that gratified Occles- 
ton : ' If you will excuse my going to see Pugh after 
dinner. He is in Woffendale for the day, and wishes 
to see me in the evening.' 

' Unreasonable beggar, Pugh ! ' remarked Occleston. 
' The idea of dragging you out from Ringway at that 
hour for nothing. Well, it will be easier for you to 
walk across from here. Better not tell him you intend 
taking a hand in the scrimmage. He might never send 
for you again.' 

* On the contrary,' rejoined Cassilis, ' he would send 
for me all the more, in hope of hearing particulars.' 

Occleston laughed. ' I did not think of that. No 
doubt I am a great solace to him in the way of amuse- 
ment. Good-bye ! See you again this evening.' 

He nodded and rode away. Cassilis went along the 
road and so up into the woods, where a light white mist 
was gathering, and the reddening sunset behind him 
turned the yellow leaves to orange, the russet to copper. 
Here the air was filled with that curious pungent chrys- 
anthemum odour of autumn, and Cassilis, breathing it, 
went again in thought over the previous evening, the 
night, the dawn, to-day, the future. Then swung back 
to the August night when these saffron-coloured woods 
were dim in the star-light and thyme-scented, and back 
to the rainbow shower when he had taken shelter under 
the chestnut, and yet back to St. John's Eve on the hill- 
side, Mannannen's garden. The hillside? He would 
go home that way. The air would not be so heavily 



jH{jjg%'<^'eiwf,f!:f_aa;!'-,;y?r,.>;.:q?B^iBy4ffl;;^ 



A Study of Remorse 



289 



charged with this breath of the earth, these fumes as of 
heady wine. 

He turned to the left, over the dank carpet of fallen 
leaves that sank a little beneath the foot because there 
had been rain the previous day; soft yellow leaves, 
mingled with brown and citron. Overhead the bare 
branches shone like bronze in the glow, the deep green 
of fir and gloom of yew seeming strange amidst the 
amber and orange light and colour. A few minutes 
more and Cassilis was out of the woods, and in the nar- 
row hedgerow path that led down through the sloping 
meadow. Here the notes of a violin came through the 
still, moist air. He knew the player; a wizened old 
man living in one of the cottages down the hillside, 
who was known as ' Eli th' fiddler,' and whose playing 
might have soothed the madness of Saul. Eli's instru- 
ment was poor, but it sang as only a violin can sing, and 
its song was that miracle of sound, the ' Cujus Ani- 
mam.' No words fit that music. It is an inarticulate 
cry to which each soul puts its own words, rising as on 
eagle wings, beating upward to the sun. Cassilis 
stopped a moment to listen, then walked slowly down- 
ward to the lane. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

BESIDE the little spring that gushed out by the 
gnarled hawthorn into the lane was a rough 
wooden bench, placed for the convenience of the cot- 
tagers coming for water; and as Cassilis turned the 
corner of the meadow path, he saw Thea Basset sitting 
there alone, her dull blue garments almost the colour 
of the distant horizon, and a cluster of tawny chrys- 
anthemums at her throat. She did not immediately 
perceive him, and he paused a moment with a sense of 
irrational exultation. 

Truly this grim fairyland was good to him after 
its own mocking fashion. It scattered its gold royally 
— the gold that was but withered leaves ; poured out 
its wine with kingly generosity — the wine that fevered. 
And again the sense as of swift breathless running 
came over Cassilis. 

He walked on and greeted Thea. 

' Are you going to the cottages ? ' she enquired. ' I 
have just left a charitable parcel at one.' 

* I am not going anywhere. I am returning from 
beyond Outwood.' 

' Did you see any of the Outwood people? ' 

* Only Mr. Occleston. He was good enough to ask 
me to dine there to-night, and assist in capturing a few 
poachers. By the way, I have always admired the 

290 



|p?^p«^!g-^"^P!'Tj«;y'?^.?rg??py;r'i7:;'"-;'''-";-'^ 



A Study of Remorse 291 

liberality of Ringway in the matter of rustic seats. 
Whenever one wishes to sit down, there is sure to be a 
bench handy.' 

' Do you wish to sit down ? ' Thea drew her blue 
skirts aside. ' You can have one end.' 

' Thank you.' 

' I am listening to old Eli's violin,' she continued. ' I 
remember that the violin is one of the three perfect 
things made by man, and I think the " Cujus Ani- 
mam " is well-nigh perfect too.' 

' Yes, it is,' assented Cassilis. 

Then they sat silent, listening in Mannannen's gar- 
den to magic as potent as his. For it is one thing to 
hear that music within four walls, and another to hear 
it in a November sunset, looking over that wide valley, 
the dim east to the right, the crimson west to the left, 
the bubbling spring at one's feet, and the autumnal 
scent of burning leaves floating up the hillside in coils 
of thin blue smoke. 

Still the violin sang, and Cassilis's whole being cried 
out in every note as the wonderful strain rose and rose 
— imploring, triumphant, ecstatic ; sinking at last to a 
sigh of perfect content. Then all was silent, save for 
the whispering of the spring. 

' Mannannen's spells still hold,' said Cassilis. 

Thea shook her head, smiling. ' Old Eli is the 
wizard this time.' 

* Is he likely to repeat it ? ' 

* I think not. That is usually his swan song. Do 
you like the smell of burning leaves? I am rather 
fond of it. The particular pyre of the summer that is 
smoking now is in the far orchard, and a girl is stirring 
it. I was inclined to help her, but as she wore a new 



292 Quality Corner 

pink ribbon at her throat, I fancied she was expecting 
someone else ; so I came away.' 

' Is the wearing of a pink ribbon a sign of expecting 
somebody ? ' 

' Unless the day is Sunday — yes.' 

' You were probably right, for I think I see two fig- 
ures down there in the shadows, whence the smoke- 
wreaths rise.' 

lA little silence. Then Thea spoke again. 

' Which do you prefer, looking north over the valley 
from here, or south from the churchyard? There is a 
difference, I think, in the effect on one's spirit whether 
one looks north or south.' 

' In what way ? ' 

* Well, I believe one's thoughts become deeper, more 
sombre, more steady in flow; and one can sit looking 
north for a much longer time than one can look south.' 

' Yet it seemed to me that I would gladly have pro- 
longed that Sunday morning looking south from the 
churchyard, when we talked of Dante, and our neigh- 
bours prayed.' 

' Ah, that was summer. The south needs summer 
for its charm, the north charms always. That is what 
I feel.' 

Cassilis was leaning forward, his hands loosely 
clasped between his knees. 

' I know that feeling,' he said. ' I think it is the 
race turning instinctively towards the cradle home, 
where the lava flows over the snow ; for that swinging 
north like the compass is only felt by the descendants 
of the Norsemen. A true Saxon has not the faintest 
idea of it. Yes, one's thoughts grow sombre, as you 
say, and old legends crowd on one's mind.' 



imamitm^msmm^'^-^^.mn^A 



A Study of Remorse 293 

He raised himself and glanced to the left, where 
the sun, a ball of crimson fire, was sinking into the 
violet mist on the horizon. The sunset was fading 
from the hill and valley, but the end of Outwood Mere 
shone liquid ruby, a splash of vivid colour in the dis- 
tance. 

' Do you remember,' Cassilis asked, drawdng his 
companion's attention to the mere, ' that strange lake 
discovered by Semiramis in Ethiopia, the waters of 
which were scarlet and tasted hke wine? Whoever 
drank those waters went mad and confessed his mis- 
deeds.' 

* I remember the story. The mere has reminded 
you of it ? ' 

' So much so that I believe I must surely have 
drunk of that scarlet wine, for I am about to confess 
my misdeed. Would more of my Dark Fairy-tale 
weary you ? ' 

' Is the question necessary ? ' Thea spoke with the 
glance of sympathetic comprehension and the swift 
smile he knew so well. 

' Thank you.' He paused a moment, looking straight 
before him, and rather wondered why he wished to 
say anything at all. What possible good could come 
from his speaking of the past? Yet an irresistible im- 
pulse drove him on. 

' It is the end of the chapter,' he said, ' the chapter I 
left unfinished when I spoke of it in the woods on the 
night of the Outwood supper. What did I say then? 
That I once had a friend, and lost him by death. I 
think I also said that I was poor in those days. Jeffries, 
in one of his books, tells how he has gone to the Na- 
tional Gallery to sit down and rest when he was too 



294 Quality Corner 

poor to afford twopence for a glass of beer. That is 
real poverty; nothing else is — nothing short of that. 
Few people know anything of this real poverty. That 
is just as well, for it is not the nurse of virtue, but the 
parent of vices. All extremes are bad. Too great 
ease and too great hardship produce pretty much the 
same effect — deadness of sensation, which either re- 
sults in crime, that is, the effort to obtain enjoyment, to 
spur the dying nerves of feeling by any means ; or else 
in the apathy — sometimes brutal, sometimes idiotic — 
which is another form of degeneration. There are some 
men who can pass through any ordeal, even this, un- 
scathed ; but they are few indeed, perhaps one in a gen- 
eration ; and I do not belong to that noble brotherhood. 
Well, details of poverty are not entertaining. Like all 
miseries of civilisation, they sap a man's self-respect 
unless his force of character be great indeed. The sav- 
age hunter is at least a man, the starving citizen is not. 
I was becoming faintly interested in the question of how 
long I should hold out, when a stranger took lodgings 
in the same house. He was a civil engineer, and had 
something to do on a new railway that was coming into 
the town — a man of unusual gifts, brilliant, generous, 
compassionate. To enter into particulars is needless. 
Enough that he saved me from starvation and despair, 
put new life into me physically and mentally, was a 
friend in the utmost sense of the word ; and I believed 
that I was grateful, and that I felt for him the same 
friendship that he felt for me. I am even persuaded 
that I feel it now, though were he standing beside me 
he would mock at my words. And he would be right.' 
Cassilis stopped, gathered a few blades of grass 
from the bank beside him, drew them slowly through 



wmmawmrr^^m^'^^^^f^s^.^marj&Z'j^f^fss^^s^i. 



A Study of Remorse 2^^ 

his fingers and laid them gently down on a patch of 
dark moss, against which they shone like fairy pikes of 
emerald. 

' My friend loved colour,' he said. ' I cannot even 
see those blades of grass without remembering how 
he would have admired their vivid green. He noticed 
the blue of the sky, whether sapphire or turquoise, the 
shadows of the clouds as they floated by. I cannot look 
upon the beauty of the world without being reminded 
of him, and of the fact that but for me, he would be 
living — en j oy ing. ' 

Cassilis paused again, and Thea, remembering Bas- 
set's answers when she questioned him about Rudell's 
remark, believed that Cassilis was reproaching himself 
for not having succeeded in saving her father's life in 
that sudden illness. Perhaps, she argued in her own 
mind, he had since thought of other treatment which 
might have been efficacious ; and, pitying the regret 
which seemed too poignant for the cause, she would 
have uttered some consoling words, when CassiUs re- 
sumed his tale. 

* We say the dead are happier than if living. They 
may be, but we say so because it soothes us to say so 
— one of the pretty poppies that lull our senses. In the 
face of the Christian Belief we Christians can hardly 
maintain that a disembodied state is happier than an 
embodied, when the resurrection of the body is the cen- 
tral fact in that Belief. 

' Yet they always get the best of it — all these ill- 
treated afflicted ones, sick and in misery, or those more 
swiftly dealt with — yes, they always get the best of it 
— as is just. Lazarus is greater than Dives, Naboth 
more kingly than Ahab. We shut them out from sun 



2^6 Quality Corner 

and happiness, and ever after we walk in their shadow, 
as is most fitting. I thrust my friend out of the warmth 
of life and hght and the beauty of the world ; and he 
has risen up immortal, mightier than I ; possessing all 
these thing more than I. For the memory of the ill- 
treated is like that dark cloud issuing from the Un- 
sealed Jar by the shore. A small thing the Jar, a small 
thing the grave ; and lo ! the Rising Shadow fills 
heaven and earth. It is not wise to afflict any human 
being, they are so mighty in their death.' 

The light in the mere was no longer ruby, but deep- 
est crimson, going to purple. Eastward a moon of 
orange fire slowly swung up from the far mists of the 
valley. 

' I knew little of my friend,' Cassilis went on, * except 
that he was a widower with one child, for whom he 
strove to save every penny, for whose sake he lodged 
while in Bramsall in that poor back street. He had 
hopes of making a fortune by a machine he was in- 
venting ; and night after night he worked at the model, 
growing more and more sanguine. Meanwhile I had 
resolved to apply for a medical appointment in a dis- 
tant town and was going there to make my application 
in person, as I knew something of a man who was on 
the committee and hoped for his influence to back me. 
I settled to go one evening in August, by a train that 
passed through Bramsall about one in the morning. 
I had been to see a man ill with fever whom I was at- 
tending — I found afterwards that I had caught it from 
him — and I came home to my lodgings at midnight. 
My friend looked worn but exultant. He greeted me 
and pointed triumphantly to the model before him on 
the table. He said he thought it was finished, and it 



ymg^gggjggggi^^^g^^gggg^^g^^ 



3Jiyi^'V^^.ii<r — :^'T^- 



A Study of Remorse 297 

would be a success. He was tired though, he said, 
and leaning back in his chair, he took, without looking, 
a small bottle from a shelf near. He was taking a 
sedative at that time, though I had told him he did not 
need it. He was in the habit too, of carelessly swal- 
lowing a dose out of the bottle. I kept medicine on 
that shelf, and, standing opposite to him, I saw what he 
did not — that he had taken the wrong bottle. The one 
that he took contained the swiftest poison known.' 

A sense of unreality stole over Thea. Was this the 
familiar hillside she knew so well? Or was this dim 
height overlooking misty depths some ' faery land for- 
lorn ' ? Did those eddies of pale smoke, with their 
scent as of wine spilt on dead leaves, coil upward from 
some wizard's cauldron ? That purple light fast dying 
in the mere ; those nearer pools left from yesterday's 
rain, shining with the bluish-silver gleam of steel, like 
weapons cast away upon a battle-field — a broken sword 
here, a twisted bayonet there: what did they all por- 
tend? She turned her gaze towards yonder orange 
moon slowly rising from the mists, and old words came 
into her mind even while she listened to Cassilis. ' The 
shield of the mighty,' yes, that was what the flaming 
copper disk resembled , ' the shield of the mighty was 
cast away . . . upon the mountains of Gilboa ! ' Her 
thoughts went back automatically over the narrative. 
' Why hast thou disquieted me to bring me up ? To- 
morrow shalt thou be with me . . . to-morrow shalt 
thou . . . ' 

With sudden horror Thea dragged her mind away 
from the echoing death-sentence, looked away from 
the deep-coloured moon and the eastward mists to the 
west and Outwood Mere. The purple light was now 



298 Quality Corner 

but a pale glint like a lance-head; and Cassilis was 
speaking. 

' " Three things," say the Arabs, " never return : 
the sped arrow, the spoken word, the lost opportunity." 
For one brief moment I had my opportunity, and in 
that moment the devil most surely entered into me.' 

i\gain the hillside became as a dream to Thea. 
The broad copper-coloured moon dazzled her eyes and 
the old words once more rose in her mind. ' The shield 
of the mighty . . . cast away . . . Why hast thou dis- 
quieted me to bring me up? . . . Why hast thou dis- 
quieted me? . . .' Whose words were those? It was 
a fantastic thought to connect them with her father! 
Could he be repeating them? If so, whose death- 
sentence was he uttering ? ' To-morrow thou shalt 
be with me . . . To-morrow . . . ' Yet again she shook 
off the weird horror, turning her eyes away from glow- 
ing moon to the dark outline of the Ridge with a curi- 
ous sense of seeking refuge. Whoever slept there, 
whether King or Wizard, had surely been a man in 
whose shadow was safety — in whose presence rest, else 
tradition had not handed down justice and compassion 
as his chief est traits. How long does a man Hve in 
this world? Till his mortal body dies? or till his in- 
fluence ceases? Impressions made in childhood often 
rise up oddly in later life ; and as before a storm the vis- 
ion of the distant hills draws nearer, so now the person- 
ality of that Sleeper on the Ridge became more vivid in 
Thea's mind. There lay a mighty one whose shield 
was never cast away ; who seemed to have made many 
rough places plain, many crooked things straight. In 
some strange way the thought of the dead Ruler had a 
quieting effect, bringing the girl back as it were to 



A Study of Remorse 299 

familiar associations, and she listened with calmer feel- 
ing and clearer head to Cassilis's story. 

' Money,' he was saying, ' is the Ithuriel spear of life. 
Touch people with it, and the fiend starts up — strong, 
menacing. The moment which would have saved my 
friend, which would have saved us both had I spoken 
one word — nay, a gesture would have sufficed, in this 
moment I neither spoke nor moved. And so I kept 
silent, so remained motionless, because the thought 
shot through my mind that if my friend died then and 
there his invention and the fortune it would bring 
might become mine. He had told me that no one had 
seen the little model. He had not spoken of it, save 
vaguely. I alone knew that it was finished. Why that 
inconceivably base suggestion should have crossed my 
mind at that moment I do not know. j\Iost solemnly 
do I declare that never before had the faintest idea of 
treachery entered my thoughts. I could not have be- 
lieved myself capable of it. Had I been accused of 
harbouring such a thought, I should have repudiated 
the charge with the deepest indignation. Even now it 
seems incredible to me that I could have had that vile 
impulse. Yet I had it. For that moment I was held 
by it. I was silent.' 

Again Cassilis stopped. He was sitting as before, 
with his hands loosely clasped between his knees, and 
as he said these last words he softly struck one closed 
hand into the palm of the other. The gesture was but 
slight, yet something in the way the action was done, 
something in the curve of the fingers, conveyed a sug- 
gestion of finality — of hopelessness. 

' Yes,' he went on, ' I was silent. The next moment 
my opportunity was gone, and I was Judas indeed. 



300 Quality Corner 

My friend swallowed his usual dose at a gulp as he 
always did, knew the instant he had swallowed it the 
mistake he had made ; knew too, that I had known in 
time to save him and had not done so ; for in that in- 
stant his eyes met mine, and by the flash of intelligence 
in his I saw that he had read my guilt in mine. I have 
seen that look ever since. There seemed to be almost 
everything in it that human eyes can convey, except 
trust. It was but momentary, an instant's comprehen- 
sion — amazement — scorn — reproach. Then the eyes 
closed, he fell sideways from his chair, and before my 
spellbound feet could get round the table his spirit had 
gone. 

' With his fall the evil spell seemed to break. We 
were not alone in the room. Mrs. Stanham — June 
Heald, now Mrs. Gresty — had been preparing supper. 
She had not noticed my friend's fatal mistake, but see- 
ing him fainting, as she imagined, she caught him 
when falling, and laid him on the floor. It was then 
that Parfitt walked down the street. I was standing 
by the window, dazed — bewildered by the depth of hell 
into which I had thrust myself. I asked him the time 
and he replied. 

' I had no reason for asking. I knew the time. 
But the murderer's feeling of loneliness was fresh upon 
me, and my speaking was a blind reaching out for help 
of some sort.' 

Once again Cassilis stopped. Perhaps he half hoped 
for some word from Thea. But she did not speak. 
The hush of the November twilight was on the hillside. 
In the north-west lay the Ridge, deep violet in colour. 
From the low-lying orchard the blue smoke of the 
burning leaves drifted upwards and across, passing in 



'ifni--"t ■ 



A Study of Remorse 301 

wreathing shapes, now veiHng, now reveahng tliose 
narrow pools shining with the glint of steel from out 
the dark herbage — the broken weapons of a stricken 
field. Away westward, was that the mere, or a lost 
spearhead gleaming? The moon rose higher, paling 
to topaz. Oh ! that shield of the mighty so vilely cast 
away — the shield of honour ! 

' After that,' Cassilis resumed, ' I made the fatal 
mistake of going away. Mrs. Gresty reminded me 
that my train left at one. I was intending to try for 
an appointment, you know. So confused was my mind, 
that telling her I would return for the inquest, and that 
she had better fetch a doctor at once, I actually left by 
the one o'clock train. By the time I had reached my 
journey's end the fever had fairly seized me. I was 
too ill to do anything. Of course I lost the appoint- 
ment ; I never applied for it. Six weeks later, as soon 
as I could travel, I went back to Bramsall to see what 
had happened ; and found the house shut up and Mrs. 
Gresty gone. I inquired for her, but the neighbours 
knew nothing save that she had left after the inquest 
was over. From that time — ten years ago — till I came 
here, I drifted from place to place, feeling that I who 
had deprived a friend of life had no right to any peace 
of life. Yet I have always wondered — I still wonder 
how it came about that I acted as I did. I never cared 
for money. Why, then, did the thought of greed wreck 
me? The evil must have been in me, or it could never 
have so dominated me. Are one's dregs bound thus to 
rise? Well, retribution has most justly fallen on me. 
Here I thought I had found rest, friends, happiness ; 
and here the ever-pursuing past has overtaken me. It 
was strange to find my former landlady, whom I re- 



302 Quality Corner 

membered as a miserable girl ill-treated by a worthless 
husband, happily placed at Gresty's farm. She was 
pleased to see me, and explained the reason of her leav- 
ing the house in Mill Street. Her husband had been in 
prison and afterwards ran away to America. She told 
me she had never mentioned me at the inquest ; the 
verdict had been " Death by misadventure." She also 
said she had forgotten to give the model to poor 
Thorold's friends when he was taken away to be buried, 
but had kept it safely. " Would I take it and try to 
find his daughter?" I was most reluctant to handle 
the thing ; I did not wish to look upon it again ; but I 
felt that duty compelled me to place the machine in the 
hands of its rightful owner. So I took it and have it 
now. I shall search for the child and send it to her. 
She must be nineteen or twenty. Her father spoke of 
her as Dolly. Mrs. Gresty tells me Thorold was buried 
in Lincolnshire, but does not recollect the name of the 
village. That is all the clue I have. Well, after this 
strange reappearance of the model, Parfitt recognised 
me, and I saw that my punishment was only beginning 
when I thought it had ended. Most generously Mr. 
Basset forbore to question me about that fatal night, 
but the coils are tightening round me. It is strange 
indeed that I should have come here, among the friends 
of the man I slew — for undoubtedly I slew Thorold by 
my silence. Rudell, I find, was present at the inquest. 
He, of course, never heard of my being in any way 
connected with Thorold till Parfitt told him I was in 
the house at half-past twelve that night. Naturally the 
concealment of my presence arouses his darkest sus- 
picions, and my apparent flight condemns me. He 
thinks I deliberately poisoned my friend, and his belief 



g^^^^d^g^jy 



A Study of Remorse 303 

is reasonable. Had I not gone by that one o'clock 
train these suspicions would hardly have fallen on me. 
But I can never explain that seemingly hurried de- 
parture. My hope of an appointment, my attack of 
fever — all merely appear so many excuses. Therefore, 
I am leaving Ringway. The accusation now hanging 
over me is one to which I have no answer. I was not 
the deliberate villain Rudell believes me to have been, 
but my sudden vile thought and consequent silence 
produced the same result. I deserve condemnation. 
I leave here to-morrow. My plans are uncertain. In 
fact, I have no plans, save to find Thorold's daughter 
and give her that accursed model.' 

Cassilis ceased speaking. He had meant to say more 
— ^to have told the wretched tale differently. ' How is 
it,' he thought, ' that one invariably tells one's own 
story so badly, and the stories of others so well ? ' 

Then his companion turned her face towards him, 
and in the mingling lights of glimmering west and 
climbing moon he saw she was very pale, and in her 
eyes was a great compassion. 

' Forgive me,' he said. ' I had no right to trouble 
you with my tale of guilt. I should not have done so 
but for the suspicion that will rest upon me when I 
have left Ringway. I wished you to know the truth, 
lest you should deem me even blacker that I am. A 
foolish wish on my part, for why should I imagine that 
you will give even a passing thought to a stranger who 
came and went in the course of a few months? But 
this has truly been a magic garden to me; the one 
chapter of my Dark Fairy-tale that I could desire to 
live again. Is there no wizard spell to stay Time's 
flight?' 



304 Quality Corner 

Thea looked towards the dim Ridge where the King 
lay sleeping. She was minded to keep silence — to let 
Cassilis remain in ignorance that here, beside him, sat 
the child ' Dolly.' Yet she marvelled at his bHndness, 
thinking that surely he must know her name. And 
while she sought for words that would not reveal the 
truth, he misunderstood her speechlessness. 

* I inspire you with horror. That is just. I deserve 
it. I—' 

She checked him by a swift gesture of negation. 
Often, very often, had Thea's hands, gestures, manner, 
reminded Cassilis startlingly of Thorold, yet his un- 
consciousness had been complete. But now, with his 
whole being vibrating with the terrible strain of the 
breathless race he had been running before his hunters ; 
with the knowledge that to-morrow would see him once 
more a well-nigh penniless wanderer; with the excite- 
ment of his confession upon him ; he at last compre- 
hended — read in Thea's eyes the truth he had never 
once suspected. 

' I understand,' he said quietly, and his voice sounded 
curiously flat ; ' you are Thorold's daughter. Of course 
I might have guessed that long ago. The name mis- 
led me.' 

' I thought you knew my name was Thorold.' 

' No. And I had only heard of the child as ' Dolly.' " 

' I am called Dorothea. To my father I was always 
Dolly.' 

' I see. How simple it all is ! I have been strangely 
blind, for I have often noticed your resemblance to 
him. But the different colouring deceived me ; his eyes 
were blue and his complexion ruddy. The likeness is 
the likeness of gesture and manner and thought. Over 



A Study of Remorse 305 

and over again I have remarked it, yet never for one 
moment did I dream you were his daughter.' 

There are some things so wildly improbable that 
when they happen no astonishment is felt. Or perhaps 
the surprise is so great that it ceases to be felt ; the 
mind merely acquiesces. That Thea Basset should be 
Dorothea Thorold seemed to Cassilis so natural that 
he could have believed he had always known it. Of 
course she was Thorold's daughter — of course — of 
course ! Who else could she be ? Why, every gesture 
was Thorold's ! Those varying inflexions of voice, that 
vivid personality — the flower, as it were, of Thorold's 
strong vitality; the keen perceptions, the quick turns 
of cultured thought — all were Thorold. 

Cassilis rose. ' What can I say ? ' he asked, looking 
down at her. ' What can I possibly say after having 
told you the story you ought never to have heard — 
least of all from me. All I can do is to go, and that 
speedily. I spoke of retribution. It is more complete 
than I imagined.' 

' You are too merciless to yourself,' Thea rephed, 
and her voice had the softness of the mist. ' It was a 
moment's evil thought caused by fever. Do you think 
you are wholly accountable for that half-delirious 
thought ? You say you fell ill the next day ; then you 
must have had the fever that night.' 

' My mind was clear enough. I knew what I was 
doing and what I had done.' 

' Still, you were not yourself. It was a terrible mis- 
take, not a crime. I am sure ' — she paused and looked 
at the violet gloom of the Ridge, then back again at 
Cassilis — ' I am sure my father himself would say so.' 

' Thank you.' 



3o6 Quality Corner 

' You speak of going away,' she went on, * but all 
that Mr. Parfitt says will be forgotten when he leaves. 
Had you not better talk to Mr. Basset before you take 
such a step ? ' 

* No man could have a better friend than Mr. Basset,' 
said Cassilis. 

' I think he would be hurt if you went away without 
telling him of your intention.' 

* I have thought of that.' 

* Have you ? I am glad. Then you will at least hear 
what he has to say ? ' She stopped a moment, then 
added, ' He would believe you.' 

* I am sure he would.' 

A clock in one of the cottages below them struck six, 
the tinkling sounds coming clearly up the hillside in the 
stillness of the dusk, and Thea rose. 

' That clock is wrong,' she said, speaking as people 
do of some trivial matter to relieve a spiritual strain. 'I 
think it is not much more than half-past five.' 

* About that,' rejoined Cassilis, taking out his watch. 
' Yes, half-past five.' 

' I thought so because the west is not yet dark/ 
No, the western horizon was not yet dark, but shin- 
ing with a wonderful ice-blue light thrown up from 
under the world's rim — a light that lit the rainpools 
and glimmered in the mere. The whitening moon still 
hung low in the east — too low to flood that eerie after- 
glow, only high enough for the moon rays to mingle 
tremulously with it in mid-air. And, as Thea stood 
beside him on this legend-haunted hillside, this place of 
dreams, this magic garden of the mighty Dead, Cassilis 
felt most vividly her singular attraction. She seemed 
a part of the soft mist and subtle lights of sunset and 



fc^'^^'^ffy|'g5t^aiK"^"^';L■yjE^?J ?!'-'^^'-'^^asg^sg'^e^ 



A Study of Remorse 307 

moonrise, living dust of earth and heaven, spirit of 
many spirits. Down through the centuries heart of 
soldier and soul of saint, grim toil of worker, hopes and 
fears of millions — all had helped to create that which 
was Thea. But Cassilis saw her too as Thorold's 
daughter; knew that she was to him what some one 
man or woman is to each man or woman — the one 
companion in whom all the charm of the world finds 
expression ; and to him, unattainable. This was the 
waking from his dream of rest. 

Yet he was not — had never been — her fitting mate. 
She needed one less complex, a nature of broader 
grander lines, a fire of life pure and strong as the 
colourless flames seen by the great Tuscan beyond the 
porphyry step. 

' I thought,' said Cassilis, with a gesture towards the 
mere, ' that I had there found Lethe, but it is Eunoe.' 

' Do you so much desire Lethe ? To wish for forget- 
fulness is to wish for loss of personality. You are too 
severe a judge of yourself. You were but half re- 
sponsible for your thought. Remembrance need not be 
so terrible.' 

She held out her hand. Cassilis raised it to his lips. 

' Thank you,' he said. ' Yet I do desire Lethe.' 

For here ended his dream of rest. 

They walked silently up the hill, along the lane they 
had traversed the first night of Cassilis's arrival in 
Ringway, then out on the high road, where the lights 
of Quality Corner sparkled below in the dusk. 

' I think Mr. Basset is in his study,' said Thea as they 
drew near the Corner. 

' Your consideration is infinitely more than I deserve. 
I can only say that my gratitude is equal to my un- 



3o8 Quality Corner 

worthiness. I will not come in now, for I have a 
patient to see before I go to Outwood/ 

' Ah yes, you are dining there to-night. Good-bye 
then till to-morrow.' 

' Good-bye,' said Cassilis, and standing in the road, 
he waited till she had disappeared within her own door. 
When it closed upon her, he turned and went swiftly 
up the road again. Half-way to the woods he stopped 
and looked back at the lights of Quality Corner. 

' It only needed this,' he said aloud. ' Only this ! ' 

He had thought himself hunted. Well, the chase 
was over now, the quarry pulled down. He would not 
think. Beside, what need for thought? Had he not 
known in some dim fashion all along? He must have 
known ! He had a few hours left. He was going to 
Outwood. At the end of the hunt there was usually 
a feast, and he could eat, drink, and be merry with the 
best of them. Why not ? The chill had not yet come, 
the fever still burnt in his veins. He would enjoy those 
last few hours. The loss of all things does not always 
produce stupor. Sometimes it gives, for a little while, 
an added capacity for enjoyment — wild Berserk de- 
light. So had it been for many days with Cassilis. So 
was it now. The blow he had received on the hillside 
had spent its staggering force. He had steadied under 
it, with but an acceleration of pulse — an added excite- 
ment. He was not to be pitied at this time. The time 
for pity would come, when pain had changed to dull 
despair. 

He reached the woods, paused for a moment looking 
into the dark moon-flecked aisles ; then returned to the 
town by another and a longer way. 



CHAPTER XXXII 

AN hour later Cassilis, returning home, saw old Sol 
and stopped to speak to him. The old seedsman 
was standing on his doorstep as usual, the light from 
the shop illumining his white head and spare figure, 
and falling here and there on the lounging bystanders. 
Ringway was very cheerful at dusk. It lit its lamps 
and stirred its fires, left its windows uncurtained and 
gossiped at the front doors. To-night this cheeriness 
of the little town smote Cassilis with yet another pang 
of regret in that he must leave it. He liked the low 
hum of conversation in the increasing darkness, the 
home lights shining out from the houses, the pale moon- 
light on the roofs. 

' 'Tis a fine night, sir,' observed Sol, and the accus- 
tomed group of idlers politely melted away, leaving the 
two alone. 

' Yes, it is a lovely night.' 

Sol oflfered the Charles Edward snuffbox, and then 
took a pinch himself, but spilt the greater portion, a 
sign with him of extreme perturbation. 

' Sir,' he said, slowly closing the lid, ' I am an old 
man, and have spoken to many a gentleman, so I reckon 
yo' willna take it ill that I should speak what's in my 
mind ? ' 

' I shall not take it ill. What is it ? ' 

While thus replying, Cassilis's thoughts took one of 
309 



3IO Quality Corner 

their comet-like sweeps again, describing a wide erratic 
orbit, yet with swift returning to the central controlling 
point. The uselessness of it all ! Of the past years, of 
the future, of the evil thing which he had done. Oh, 
he would listen to all old Sol had to say; he liked the 
old man. Besides, Cassilis always listened, as was his 
duty. For surely when the Almighty has patience to 
hear what His dust-miracles have to say, they might 
have the grace to listen to each other. 

' Well, sir, to put it plainly, theer's a tale about that 
Mr. Parfitt o'er theer,' glancing towards the Corner, 
' knew yo' years agone in Bramsall, when things wuma 
so well wi' yo', an' that you're thinking o' leaving 
Ringway along o' Mr. Parfitt an' his sayings. Now, sir, 
dunnot do it. Theer's nowt like holding on. Yo' hold 
on an' let yon Parfitt chunner his fill. I've seen 
a-many curious happenings. You'd be surprised, sir, 
what a deal a man sees standing on 's doorstep for forty 
year an' more. Even sin' my father died I've stood on 
this doorstep summer an' winter, an' I never knew any 
good come o' turning one's back to folk's lies. Let 'em 
holler to your face; they'll soon get tired on't. Yon 
Parfitt's going afore long, an' I'll warrant he'll noan 
coom back again. If you'll excuse my speaking, sir ! ' 

His listener smiled. Here was Pugh's advice re- 
iterated. No doubt both he and Sol were right. Had 
the situation been less hopeless, Cassilis would have 
probably done as advised. He had an instinct for 
holding on. But now, to his thinking, his overthrow 
was complete. He heard old Sol with full appreciation 
of the kindly old-world feudal feeling that prompted it, 
and also with an odd sensation as of bidding farewell. 

' Thank you,' he said, ' it is pleasant to find one has 



A Study of Remorse 311 

friends who believe in one. I am aware that Mr. 
Parfitt, intentionally or otherwise, has created some 
suspicion of me. But what he thinks, and what others 
think in consequence of his words, is not true.' 

' Sir,' responded Sol, ' theer wur no need fur yo' to 
say that.' 

' I know. But I preferred to say it.' 

' I hope, sir, as yo'll think o'er what I say, an' I say 
it fur a-many folk beside mysen.' 

' I will think over it.' He held out his hand to the 
old man, who grasped it with evident feeling. 

' I suppose I am a liar,' Cassilis reflected as Ee went 
home, ' a shifty liar. Truly I am laying up treasure for 
myself hereafter — treasure that will sink me.' 

He dressed for Outwood ; then found he had a few 
minutes to spare, and looked around on his books, 
thinking that he would take them with him when he 
left Ringway in the dawn. They were so few. A 
couple of boxes would hold them. He unlocked the 
cupboard in which was the model. At last he could 
fulfil his charge; he could give Thorold's work to his 
daughter. The mockery of it all ! Again, after all the 
years, Cassilis marvelled at his own exceeding baseness, 
which, like all baseness, the years had revealed to be 
also his own exceeding folly. ' And I never cared for 
money ! ' he said aloud, laying his hand on the web of 
steel, ' nor do I now. What possessed me ! ' 

He took the model out, feeling still the curious calm 
and exaltation that had dominated him since that hour 
on the hillside. There was a small square mahogany 
box that had accompanied him in his wandering. It 
would do. He placed the model in the box, tied it up, 
and addressed the parcel to Thea. Having done this, 



312 Quality Corner 

he went downstairs and found the cab waiting to take 
him to Outwood. 

The night was full of moonlight and autumn scents, 
but QuaHty Corner lay in shadow. The climbing moon 
had not yet risen over the tall old houses. Standing 
on the pavement, Cassilis looked at Basset's windows, 
where firelight and lamplight glowed through the 
silken curtains. Those brightly-lit windows repre- 
sented to him all that makes life more than mere exist- 
ence, and he stood without — must needs so stand. 
Here the remembrance of familiar words came to him 
like seaweed dimly seen beneath the wave — ' Without 
are murderers.' Yes, that was the sentence, ' Without 
are murderers.' 

Then he drove away into the moonlight and the mist. 
He would see those windows again ; on his return to- 
night, in to-morrow's dawn, and — as long as he lived. 

But he meant to enjoy himself at Outwood. The 
strange exhilaration still held him, the fever still burnt 
in his veins. So long as that lasted, at least he lived — 
at least he lived ! He said this over and again to him- 
self as he was borne along the wide high-road, pale 
in the moonlight; past the scattered homes, past the 
dark woods, till the mere glimmered on the right, and 
the old house outlined itself against the sky. At this 
point of the road Cassilis told the driver to stop first 
at Pugh's villa, for there was the chance of his having 
returned sooner than was expected, and to see him now 
was more convenient than visiting him later from Out- 
wood. Best not to lose even one moment of this last 
night in civilisation. 

' 'Tis easy to see owd Pugh is teetotaler,' said the 
driver resentfully, as he got down and struggled with 



A Study of Remorse 313 

the intricate fastening of the gates; 'a chap that took 
his beer regular 'ud ha' a sensible sort o' catch as 'ud 
open if yo' fell up against it, an' shut o' its own accord. 
This here toy puzzle takes a sober mon a good ten 
minutes an' a' his sense to see th' hang of it. Nobbut 
childish, I call it ! But theer ! teetotalers is as full o' 
whimsies as a two-year-owd babby.' 

Here the gate suddenly flew open and as suddenly 
recoiled, hitting the mare on the nose as she walked 
forward ; whereupon the driver expressed strong opin- 
ions as to Mr. Pugh's ultimate destiny. Cassilis 
laughed and sympathised. He had himself often 
wrestled with that fastening. Indeed, on one occasion 
he had solved the difficulty by getting over the gate, 
and the driver's feelings appealed to him. Also, he was 
in the mood to be amused. Was he not coming to Out- 
wood for amusement? — his last amusement. Now 
that Ringway would soon be to him a memory only, 
he felt how congenial place and people alike had been 
to him. High and low, he had fraternised easily with 
them — had been pleased, amused, happy. 

Pugh was not yet back; he would have to be seen 
later after all. So Cassilis drove on through the fir 
plantation, over the bridge, and up to the hospitable 
old house. He enjoyed himself at dinner of course. 
Anthony was there, and Herries, and several other 
men whom he knew. 

' A pity you've got to waste time with Pugh,' Oc- 
cleston remarked when dinner was nearly over, and all 
at the table were discussing the latest variety of poacher 
and the best way of catching him. 

' Is Mr. Pugh ill? ' enquired Mrs. Occleston. 

' Well, he says so,' replied Cassilis. ' Just now I do 



314 Quality Corner 

not agree with him, and we spend our time arguing 
about it.' 

' I am surprised that he sends for you/ rejoined Mrs. 
Occleston, laughing. 

' He wishes to convince me that I am mistaken.' 

' Don't let him argue too long to-night,' said George, 
' or you'll miss the fun. You know the rendezvous, 
and if the row has begun you will hear where we are.' 

' I do not suppose I shall be more than ten minutes 
at Pugh's,' said Cassilis. 

But he was rather longer than he expected, for Pugh, 
greatly interested, asked numberless questions about 
the Outwood poachers and the arrangements made to 
capture them. 

Presently a shot broke the quiet, then another. 

' Them's poachers,' observed Mr. Pugh. ' Do you 
call that Christian doings ? ' 

' On the part of the poachers ? — no,' said Cassilis. 

' Is yon Parfitt there ? ' 

* He was not at the house, but I heard he was to join 
the party later.' 

' Well then,' with slow emphasis, ' if I was in your 
boots, doctor, I'd mistake him for a poacher ! ' 

Cassilis laughed and shook his head. 

' Ay, but I would,' persisted Mr. Pugh. ' There's a 
mort o' chaps as are all the better for mistakes o' that 
sort, and he's one on 'em. You should never let by a 
chance o' slipping into an enemy; it mightn't come 
again.' 

' I thought you advocated peace at any price, Mr. 
Pugh.' 

'O' course,' serenely, ' when folks is peaceable. But 
when they isn't, they've got to be made so, that's all.' 



A Study of Remorse 315 

' I see. Your attitude is perfectly simple and 
straightforward.' 

' I think it is,' assented Mr. Pugh with pride. ' Now, 
if I'd my way, I'd hommer them poachers for poaching, 
and I'd hommer other folks for keeping the game. 
You've only got to hommer all round, and there you 
are!' 

' Not always. Sometimes the result is, where are 
you? ' 

' I dunno about that. Now you heed what I say 
about yon Parfitt to-night, and don't look too hard to 
see who you're hitting. There's times when an ac- 
cident is worth a good deal. And even if you don't 
lay him up, you'd feel a kind o' satisfaction in giving 
him one for himself. There goes another shot ! — well, 
I never! Occleston might ha' been neighbourly and 
asked me to help.' 

' To help ? ' echoed Cassilis, astonished. 

* To be sure. Why not ? I reckon I could do as 
well as yon Parfitt. He's a weedy-looking chap. Do 
you want a loaded stick? There's one by the hall- 
door. Take it as you go out.' 

' No, thank you. I have my own. I will tell Mr. 
Occleston what you say about helping.* 

' Ay, do. He might think on't some other time. 
Good-night. See you to-morrow.' 

' Good-night.' 

As he went into the moonlit chill of the November 
night, filled with woodland scents, Cassilis thought it 
was hardly probable that Pugh would see him either to- 
morrow or at any time again. For more and more he 
felt inclined to leave Ringway before to-morrow 
dawned. He told himself that he would enjoy to the 



3i6 Quality Corner 

last, and he did. After all, this was a good day that 
fate had given him ; yes, a good day — this day of his 
doom. He had lived every hour of the past thirty. 
Whether he had been in hell or heaven, he had lived 
every minute. He was living them now. He would 
live them to the last, and then pass away to the poverty, 
stagnation, and vain remorse that are worse than death. 
Truly, the civilised gutter is an evil home for those not 
naturally akin to it. To work for mere bread, — as if man 
lived by bread alone ! His blood boiled into savagery 
again as he thought this. Then his sense of justice 
rose up ; he deserved his doom, — a traitorous murderer. 
He might have had all he wished, had but his honour 
held for one fatal moment. Moreover, had he not had 
more than his deserts? He had had six months of 
Ringway. He had seen what might have been, and 
though the vision was as the uttermost mockery, yet 
it was better to have seen the rainbow. He had en- 
joyed; he was enjoying even now. What a night it 
was ! — this November night of the north-west. Not 
the white moonlight and black shadows of summer and 
the south, but a blue shimmering lustre that was a 
caress in itself; a touch chill, subtle, ice in the wine. 
Turquoise-coloured moonlight shining through faint 
mist; a radiant haze that seemed almost to take shape 
and form here and there among the trees. Yonder, 
between the beeches, was it only moonlit mist — or was 
it Oona ? Over there, that sudden glitter by the mere, 
was it only a shining pebble — or a jewel on Nimue's 
breast? And the lake itself, dim, mysterious, half 
veiled in soft blue vapour, with dazzling gleams where 
a moon-ray smote the water aslant like a lance. Cassilis 
saw it all, felt the delicate, elusive beauty of it, thought 



A Study of Remorse 317 

that if yonder luminous mist could take form it would 
be — Thea. How still the night was ! Poacher and 
pursuer alike had vanished. Where were they all? 
He did not wish to think too much. Then he heard 
shouts and shots not far away in front, to the right 
over the water. Ah, that was better. The noise prom- 
ised action ; something to drag thought into another 
groove for perhaps ten minutes. This was his last 
night, and he meant to enjoy it — he was enjoying it. 
He quickened his pace to a run as the noise increased. 
All round him was silence and the woodland scents 
and shadows. Here was the bridge, the moonlight full 
upon it, and darkness at either end. He was running 
now at his top speed, and, as he sprang into the light, 
three men rushed from the shadows behind him. So 
sudden was the attack that, being thus seized from 
behind, Cassilis, after a violent but ineffectual effort 
to free himself, was lifted over the parapet and flung 
into the water below. 

The struggle barely lasted a minute, and the men 
disappeared into the fir plantation beyond. 

Cassilis was a good swimmer, and struck out in- 
stinctively, reaching the shore almost directly. To 
scramble out would have been tolerably easy, even 
though the bank was steep, for tree-roots and jutting 
sandstone gave firm grasp ; but in being thrown over 
the parapet he had received a severe blow on the head 
which partially stunned him. Therefore, instead of 
climbing out, all he could do was to hold on to a grass- 
grown point of rock and try to call for help. Had he 
called? His head was too confused to know clearly 
what was happening. Yet he surely must have called ; 
for there, on the bridge just above, stood Parfitt, 



3i8 Quality Corner 

motionless, looking down on him. The moonlight fell 
upon both, and Cassilis, looking up, met Parfitt's eyes, 
and knew that he was recognised — knew also that he 
would receive no assistance. In this Cassilis's per- 
ceptions were true. Parfitt did not intend to exert him- 
self in the matter. He could swim a little, but the 
water of that deep mere would be deadly cold this No- 
vember night, and he hated discomfort, as a man of 
his type always does. Besides, he was annoyed by the 
evident hostility displayed towards him on behalf of 
Cassilis by Basset and others, and the greatest vin- 
dictiveness is usually called forth by offended vanity. 
So, all things considered, Mark really felt no impulse 
to interfere. Let Cassilis get out by himself ; doubtless 
he could. And if he could not — well, it was no affair 
of his — Parfitt's. 

Here let no one stigmatise the artist's conduct as 
monstrous or unnatural. People have become so im- 
bued with the idea of Christian chivalry that they 
positively think it is natural for one man to help 
another in a difficulty. It isn't. The natural impulse 
is to leave him alone. Parfitt simply did the natural 
thing. There was no reason why he should incon- 
venience himself by pulling Cassilis out, and he did 
not. The traitors, cowards, and dirty mean rascals, 
male and female, that one meets with are not the human 
monsters, the lusus natures one likes to imagine them. 
Oh, no; they are simply the natural man acting in 
accordance with natural dictates of self-preservation, 
self-advancement, and self-enjoyment. The human 
animal on the alert to keep out of harm's way, and to do 
the best for itself that circumstances permit, combined 



A Study of Remorse 319 

with an equally natural wish to destroy anything un- 
usual, and therefore irritating. Many human beings 
revert to the Adam B.C. There is no need to search 
history for examples. One may find amazing instances 
of meanness and depravity within arm's length any 
day. Cassilis himself was an instance of a moment's 
falling back to the pre-Christian type. So Parfitt, the 
natural man, followed his inclinations, and remained 
on the bridge. Ten years ago he felt the impulse to 
help, but that had died with the self-indulgent years. 
He might have shouted for aid ; there were a couple of 
dozen men within earshot, their voices coming on the 
air confusedly, making the silence by the bridge seem 
deeper. But Mark did not shout; it did not seem to 
him worth while. He did not choose to realise exactly 
what was happening, and possessed to the full that con- 
venient faculty of only perceiving as much as one 
wishes to perceive. And the time was very brief. 
Perhaps, had it been longer, Mark might have strolled 
off to tell the others that Cassilis was in the mere. As 
it was, the few moments only sufficed for the artist's 
worst side to come uppermost. 

To Cassilis, half stunned, striving to collect his 
strength that he might either climb out of the chilling 
water or summon help, these moments seemed hours. 
That dark, steady stream, too, from the wound on his 
head; he knew it ought to be staunched, but how? 
Then his brain cleared, and he saw Parfitt, and, as their 
eyes met, understood that Mark was present merely as 
a spectator — an enemy — not as a friend. Twice in his 
extremity had Cassilis appealed for help to this man. 
The memory struck him oddly as he looked up. If 



320 Quality Corner 

anyone but Parfitt stood there ! Yet was it not better, 
far better, that this mere, in its fantastic beauty of 
mist and moonhght, should be the end rather than 
the squalid wandering that awaited him with longer 
life? Here, however, with his cleared thought, his 
strong vitality asserted itself — the fierce clinging to 
the union of body and spirit that was natural to him 
— and he made one desperate effort to lift himself up 
the bank. The attempt was useless, and left him dizzy 
and faint. He felt he could not hold on much longer. 
Would anyone come? Would Parfitt stand there for 
ever? Was that another shot he heard? — distant 
shouts ? 

Then things became a little vague to CassiHs. That 
figure on the bridge who looked on so coldly, was it 
Parfitt? — or Thorold, come from the dead to reproach 
him? The luminous mist beside him — was it Thea? 

' Thorold ! ' he muttered, ' you know I ' 

Then things became yet more vague. The tuft of 
matted grass to which he held seemed to turn to air — 
to melt in his grasp like the mist. Softly, gently he 
slipped back, and with a faint swirl the dark water 
closed over his head. 

His disappearance seemed the signal for the silent 
spot to wake to life. The eddy had not reached the 
farther bank before Tony Occleston burst through the 
plantation, followed by several other men. 

' He's gone ! ' shouted Tony, pulling off his coat. 
' I saw him only a moment ago. Look at that black- 
guard Parfitt on the bridge ! I believe he knows all 
about it.' And Tony plunged into the mere. 

Parfitt, very angry now, turned to go off the bridge, 
and found himself confronting Herries. 



A Study of Remorse 321 

' What were you doing here ? ' enquired the latter. 
' You were standing still.' 

Again Mark felt the sensation of being at a dis- 
advantage somehow. He answered lamely : 

' I had just come up, and was intending to seek 
assistance.' 

' Apparently you were in no hurry,' observed Her- 
ries coolly, walking away to the bank. 

Anthony Occleston had just come up from a second 
useless dive. 

' Come out, Tony,' said Herries, ' and I will try.' 

' Once more,' replied Tony, and went down again. 

' Here ! — let me,' interposed another man. ' I can 
stop under water as long as anybody, and crawl about 
on the bottom if necessary.' 

' It is very deep here in the cleft,' replied Herries. 
' Better that we should go down who know it.' 

' Where's Parfitt ? ' asked young Fenwick of his 
brother in a low tone. 

' Don't know,' in the same tone. ' Gone of¥ some- 
where. I wish we had not brought him. It looked 
awfully queer, standing quietly on the bridge like that 
when we came up. Did you hear what Tony Occleston 
said?' 

The other nodded, and turned his attention again to 
the mere, where Tony was being helped up the bank 
after his third unavailing dive. 

' Better order out the boat and drags,' said Herries, 
' in case I fail.' And he went in. 

As Herries vanished beneath the moonlit surface, 
George Occleston arrived with more of his guests. 

' What's all this ? Who's in ? We met Tony pelting 
ofif for the boat ! ' 



322 Quality Corner 

' It's Cassilis/ somebody answered. 

At that moment Herries reappeared, and there was 
an instant stir, for he was grasping something. 

' Take him,' he said laconically, and Cassilis was 
drawn up the bank. 

' We'll get him to the house at once,' said George. 
' How did it happen ? ' — this to Herries, who was put- 
ting on his coat. 

' Nobody knows. Unless Parfitt does. He was on 
the bridge.' 

' I hope Cassilis will be all right,' Occleston went on 
in concerned tones. ' I'll send for old Simpson. He 
has retired, you know, but will come in an emergency. 
Likes it. Feels a little dull, I suspect. I was wonder- 
ing why Cassilis did not turn up. I though Pugh must 
be keeping him. Well, we've got five of the gang. 
That's something. One has peppered himself with his 
own gun pretty badly ; serve him right ! Simpson must 
look at him. But I don't half like this accident to 
Cassilis.' 

' Neither do I,' said Herries. 

Stillness settled once more over the mere when Cas- 
silis was carried up to the house. The dark water had 
done its work. It lay in the cleft like a sword, and the 
soft shining mist caressed it lovingly ; now veiling the 
rippling steel, now showing gleams of light along the 
edge ; but charily, as though wishing to hide its treasure 
within those glimmering folds. Not the faintest sound 
broke that eerie silence of blue vaporous moonlight, 
woodland, and mere. 

That night Outwood was astir till dawn. Occleston 
refused to believe that Cassilis was dead ; and he, An- 
thony, and Herries strove for hours to bring back the 



A Study of Remorse ^'^^ 

life they hoped was yet Hngering. When finally even 
George saw the uselessness of their efforts, his regret 
was unfeigned. 

' The nicest fellow I have met for many a day, and 
clever too ! How in the world did it happen ? ' 

* Parfitt,' said Tony. 

' I am not so sure of that/ responded Herries, ' but 
certainly he made no attempt to save him.' 

' I distinctly saw Cassilis holding on to the bank,' 
said Tony hotly. ' He was looking up at Parfitt, who 
could have saved him by merely running down and 
supporting him till we came up. He sank before I 
could reach him.' 

' It looks ugly,' observed George thoughtfully. ' I 
wonder when Cassilis left Pugh. There will be an 
inquest. Well, I am sincerely sorry for our loss ; the 
more sorry because had I not asked the poor fellow 
here- to-night it would not have happened. But none 
of us can foresee things ; and anyway I did not invite 
Parfitt.' 



CHAPTER XXXIII 

NEWS travels swiftly in a country place. By eight 
o'clock next morning all Ringway knew what 
had happened at Outwood Mere. Parfitt had indeed 
returned to the Corner before midnight, but beyond 
telling his sister that Cassilis had fallen into the lake 
and been pulled out, had said no more. Leaving when 
he did, Mark was not certain that Cassilis was dead, 
and Tony Occleston had remained at Outwood. There- 
fore the tidings came by the accustomed channel of 
the country folk. Perhaps the Moss Farm was the 
first household to hear of the accident. A gamekeeper 
told Gresty in the early dawn, the 'wolf's brush,' while 
yet there was not light enough to see the colour of the 
fallen leaves, and Gresty, coming in to breakfast, re- 
peated it to June. 

' I'm feart it's true enow,' he added, ' an' a pity it is. 
He wur a real gentleman an' I liked him.' 

' An' so did I,' replied June. ' I conna believe it's 
true.' 

' No more con I. But things as yo' conna believe are 
mostly true.' 

' He'll be missed by a-many,' said June. 

* Ay, he will that,' Gresty paused a moment. ' I thowt 
I saw him an' Miss Thea on th' hillside yesterday, 
sitting by th' spring. Eh dear! theer's a mort o' 
trouble i' th' world.' 

' Did th' keeper say how Dr. Cassilis got in ? ' 
324 



A Study of Remorse 2'^ 5 

' He didna exactly know. He says it mun ha' been 
th' poachers. Theer wur a regular fight wi' them last 
neet, as tha knows. Theer wur a lot on 'em, an' keeper 
says three of 'em passed him running off th' bridge. 
But Mr. Anthony wur saying that it wur Mr. Parfitt's 
doing somehow. O'er at Outwood they wur trying a' 
neet to rub th' life into th' doctor after they'd pulled 
him out. But he wur gone. Eh ! but it's a pity. Most 
like theer'll be an inquest an' if I'm on th' jury I'll see 
as Dr. Cassilis has fair play, dead though he be.' 

All that morning June pondered over what she had 
heard. Had Cassilis and Parfitt quarrelled? And 
about what? June had not seen Cassilis lately, save 
once or twice in the town. The rumour of his leaving 
had reached her ears, but she had not believed it, 
ascribing that and all other reports to Parfitt's jealousy. 
As for Rudell's evident suspicion, June thought of that 
with scorn. Had she not been present when Thorold 
died? Did she not know his death was the result of 
his own lamentable carelessness ? She was glad Rudell 
had not come to the farm again ; and she had hoped 
for Cassilis's marriage to Thea; as that, June felt, 
would put both Parfitt and Rudell to silence. June 
Gresty was, as has been said, a grateful creature. Cas- 
siHs had no more sincere friend than she ; and now 
that all was over and he beyond praise or blame, 
earthly happiness or miser}^ she recalled with super- 
stitious awe the words he had spoken that summer 
morning when the blackbird was singing in the cherry- 
tree : ' Perhaps this is the end of my wanderings.' 

It seemed a piteous end. An injustice somehow. 
June held that goodness should be rewarded by happi- 
ness, and she had seen nothing but good in Cassilis. 



226 Quality Corner 

Fate had been niggardly towards him, or so it seemed 
to June. 

Later, having been into the town, Gresty came in 
with the news that there would be an inquest, and that 
Cassilis had probably been thrown into the mere by the 
three poachers seen by the gamekeeper. 

' But folks are saying,' finished Gresty, ' as Parfitt 
wur standing on th' bridge a-looking on comfortable- 
loike while th' doctor wur drowning.' 

' Then he wur as bad as th' poachers,' said June. 

' Ay, he wur. 'Tis a pity him an' Dr. Cassilis couldna 
ha' changed places. But nowt never comes to harm ! ' 

Rudell returned home the same morning, and found 
a gloom in Quality Corner that shadowed every house. 
Basset was taking upon himself the responsibility of 
arranging Cassilis's affairs. 

' Apparently the poor fellow had no relatives, or none 
worth recognising,' he said to Rudell. ' There are no 
papers, except a few relating to his coming here. His 
books and personal possessions I shall take charge of 
in case anyone appears to claim them. Of course I 
shall put the death in the papers. There is money 
enough to pay the housekeeper and trifling accounts ; 
if there were not I should settle those matters. The 
house is mine, and I shall not take the rent due, but 
keep it in case any claim is made by anyone in need. 
Have you seen Occleston ? ' 

' George ? No, not yet. I have been hearing about 
it all from Parfitt. Old Sol Ingers just mentioned to 
me a preposterous report in the town.' 

' You mean the belief that Parfitt was the cause of 
Cassilis's death? I fail to see that it is preposterous.' 

'What?' 



A Study of Remorse ';}^i'] 

' A little while ago you told me that any man was 
capable of anything,' 

Rudell was slightly taken aback. 
'True; I did.' 

* I am not supposing,' Basset went on, ' that your 
brother-in-law deliberately threw poor Cassilis into the 
mere. But I think it possible that they quarrelled and 
a struggle ensued, and Cassilis may have lost his bal- 
ance and fallen in. Whether that were so or not, it is 
indisputable that Parfitt might have saved him had he 
been willing.' 

' He tells me there was not time.' 

' When one does not wish to do a thing, there is never 
time to do it.' 

' Well, the idea is, I believe, chiefly Tony Occleston's, 
and you know Tony is hasty in forming opinions.' 

' I hear Herries noticed Parfitt's delay in summoning 
assistance, and spoke to him about it.' 

* That sounds awkward, I admit. But it does not 
disprove Parfitt's statement.' 

' He has told you there was not time. That may 
be true ; but whether there was time or not, the ugly 
fact remains that he was not attempting to do anything. 
He was standing perfectly still on the bridge when the 
others came up.' 

' There will be an inquest, of course ? ' 

* To-morrow.' 

* It seems a melancholy accident,' said Rudell, after 
a slight pause ; ' yet for Cassilis it may be the best that 
could happen to him. He was getting under a cloud, 
you know.' 

' A cloud of Parfitt's making, which' would have dis- 
appeared with Parfitt. As for it being the best thing 



328 Quality Corner 

that could happen to Cassihs, why of course it is. The 
man who dies between thirty and fifty is hicky indeed. 
He has had as much as Hfe can probably give him, and 
he escapes the long downward journey — the journey 
among thieves — evil years that snatch first one thing, 
then another ; increasing toil and lessening strength ; 
till — his good days past — the victim either dies of over- 
work or starvation ; or lingers on lonely, weary, de- 
crepit, cursing the training that restrains him from 
blowing out his miserable brains.' 

' Oh come ! ' said Rudell, ' some of us — many of us — 
are snug enough.' 

' Yes, we who don't deserve it. I am snug enough, 
as you say. I have never toiled. I have outlived my 
hopes, fears, aspirations, and am content to aim at — 
the possession of a good cook ! Are your aims much 
higher, Rudell ? ' 

' What can one do. Basset ? ' 

' Cassilis is lucky,' Basset went on. ' Every man and 
woman capable of thinking would say the same. But 
the world has lost a sympathetic and clever man, and 
I have lost a friend.' 

Also, though of this he did not speak. Basset was 
perturbed on his god-daughter's account. Did she 
care for Cassilis or not? Emily Darnton went about 
with red-rimmed eyes, openly lamenting; whereas 
Thea only looked a little paler than usual, and she 
was always pale. Basset had found among the dead 
man's possessions the parcel addressed to her. With- 
out examining it, he took it into his own house, where 
Thea was writing letters in the dining-room, and plac- 
ing it beside her on the table, said simply, ' This is 
addressed to you, my dear,' and went back to Number 



A Study of Remorse 329 

One. When he returned an hour later, Thea was still 
writing letters, but the parcel was gone. She made no 
allusion to it, neither did Basset. Her silence, however, 
troubled him, as it showed greater feeling or greater 
indifference than her speaking would have done; and 
since he could hardly suppose it meant indifference, he 
was harassed by the question of how much feeling 
might be involved. Yet the silence might merely be 
courteous reticence towards the memory of a man who 
had laid the best that he had at her feet. Basset hoped 
it was so. At any rate, he thought, she had Emily 
Darnton to talk to if she wished. 

But that sunny brilliancy of hers was fhe foam- 
sparkle over the still depths of the sea. Neither to 
Emily nor to anyone else was Thea likely to speak of 
Cassilis. As time went on, the years would show her 
how fatal was that flaw in his character ; how infinitely 
better, finer, higher, is that innate Christian honour 
which comes from a long line of believing, self-repress- 
ing ancestry, and which cannot fail; the iron of cen- 
turies beaten into the steel that never breaks ; on whose 
absolute, instinctive integrity of thought and action one 
may rely as on the return of the dawn or the Word of 
the Almighty — from Whom, originally, this splendid 
honour comes. 

At this present time — as always — Thea kept silence. 
Before she opened the box she knew what it contained. 
Taking out the model when in her own room, she 
looked at it for a long time, much as Cassilis had done. 
A turmoil of thought seethed round it. Her father's 
toil over and pride in his invention — and it had caused 
his death! Then Cassilis's despairing remorse and 
long wandering. Best that the little model should 



330 Quality Corner 

vanish even as had those two whose hves were linked 
with it. Doubtless this miserable page of the Dark 
Fairy-tale would be read again hereafter, but then the 
crooked things would surely be made straight ; Cassilis 
would surely be forgiven, and that which he had done 
would not be mentioned unto him. 

Here she recalled that sunny morning in the church- 
yard when Cassilis had spoken of the uselessness of 
repentance — the immortality of remorse. Now, re- 
membering his enduring regret, his long wanderings ; 
remembering too how wholly unpremeditated was that 
fatal pause, his fate seemed hard to Thea — hard in its 
privations in this world, and in its burden of memory 
in the other. Yet he reaped the reward of his deed, 
and of that harvest no man can reasonably complain. 
To judge of an evil act it is as well to look at it from 
the point of view either of its victims or its conse- 
quences, or both. Thorold had been sent out of life by 
one whom he had rescued from starvation. That was 
the plain truth which Thorold's daughter saw with 
painful clearness, striving not to see. Of what avail 
was it to say other men were greater sinners and en- 
joyed their lives notwithstanding their misdeeds ? That 
others were worse did not make Cassilis better. A 
man is not measured by the standard of his fellows, 
but by that of the Almighty, and the two are not the 
same. This man had reaped his harvest of his base 
treachery. Those others would reap their harvest also. 
His Dark Fairy-tale was finished ; the Rider of the 
Pale Horse had drawn rein and added the last few 
lines, as was his custom. Had but the tale been differ- 
ent! Yet it had been one of repentance, useless of 



A Study of Remorse 331 

course, but still repentance. The average human being 
regards repentance as wholly unnecessary till death, 
and then completely efficacious. Indeed, he will not 
only excuse the transgressions that attract him, but will 
weave petty sophistries to prove them right, or at least 
trivial — contemptible sophistries to draw the attention 
away from the evil of the offences, like the will-o'-the- 
wisps that flicker above the pestiferous marsh — lights 
that do not help the vision, but bewilder. 

Cassilis had not sought to palliate his own wicked- 
ness. If he had fallen a slave to his own evil impulses 
for one fatal minute, he had undoubtedly been a free 
man all the rest of his life both before and after. Yet 
that model on the table bore mute witness of how 
Thorold had left this present world, and his daughter 
sat before it thinking ; as he himself had often sat long 
ago, and as Cassilis had sat ; all three with such differ- 
ent thoughts ! Thorold interested and hopeful, Cassilis 
remorseful and despairing, Thea trying to reconcile the 
irreconcilable ; refusing to see what yet she did see, the 
truth Cassilis had uttered on the hillside, that repent- 
ance and forgiveness do not and cannot annihilate evil 
once done. 

The problem was insoluble. What use in thinking 
further? Thea rose and restored the model to its box. 
It should never be seen save by her. Best that it should 
vanish. By-and-by she would arrange its disappear- 
ance. Even to Basset she would not show it, Cassilis's 
confession was made to her alone. 

That night she looked at the model again, touched 
it gently — curiously — feeling an interest in it apart 
from pain ; wondered if her father had been proud of 



22'2. Quality Corner 

it, if he would prefer her to keep it. But that she could 
not do. She left it uncovered all night, and the moon- 
rays in their slow travelling gHmmered on the steel as 
on some fantastic web meant for the entanglement of 
rarer things than flies. 



CHAPTER XXXIV 

ALL Ringway went to the inquest, and those who 
could not get into the room discussed the matter 
outside. Public opinion emphatically objected to 
Parfitt. Tony Occleston's observations had been re- 
peated far and wide and were accepted by the majority. 
Herries too, when he appeared as a witness, did not 
increase the artist's popularity by the statement that 
Mark was quietly standing on the bridge when the 
others came up. Neither was the jury likely to regard 
him favourably, for Mr. Pugh was foreman. A man 
of Pugh's idiosyncrasies thoroughly enjoys being on a 
jury, it affords such opportunity for contradiction. 

Besides, Pugh sincerely regretted Cassilis's death. 
Where could he find such another companion? Life 
would be distinctly duller. When the rumour of 
Parfitt's guilt reached his ears, Pugh believed it at 
once and for ever, and resolved to do his duty. This 
resolution was visible all over him as he walked solidly 
to his place as one of the twelve. 

' Pugh means to be an awful handful,' said George 
Occleston to Rudell in a low voice. ' Look at the way 
he is sitting down. When a man settles himself in a 
seat as though he meant to stick to it throughout 
eternity, you know what to expect ! ' 

' Why should Pugh concern himself particularly ? ' 
inquired Rudell. 

333 



334 Quality Corner 

' Well, he liked Cassilis. As everyone did except 
yourself, Rudell.' 

* I always acknowledged that he was a capable man.' 
' That is not Hking. Parfitt was his enemy, and you 

listened to Parfitt. It is all over now,' continued Oc- 
cleston. ' We need not quarrel about the poor fellow. 
But I esteemed him greatly and had much enjoyment 
in his society ; and — hang it all, Rudell ! — Parfitt could 
have pulled him out had he chosen to do so.' 

' I am not prepared to admit that,' said Rudell. 

' Herries says so. Ask him. There he is by the 
door, with Anthony and Basset.' 

' And I am not responsible for my brother-in-law's 
actions,' continued Rudell. 

* I should like to make him responsible for his own/ 
retorted Occleston. 

The inquest was conducted on Ringway principles, 
that is, with a comfortable absence of ceremony. Par- 
fitt's evidence was received in ominous silence, until 
Mr. Pugh pleasantly observed : 

' My opinion is that Mark Parfitt an' James Cassilis 
had words on the bridge, an' Mark Parfitt threw James 
Cassilis over. ' 

' That's a lie ! ' said Parfitt. 

'All right,' responded Mr. Pugh, 'but thai don't 
alter my opinion.' 

Here the coroner interposed to ask Parfitt whether 
he could swim. 

' A little.' 

' Then why did you not go to the assistance of Dr. 
Cassilis ? ' 

' I never supposed he needed any.' 



A Study of Remorse 335 

* I reckon,' said Mr. Pugh, addressing Parfitt, ' as 
your words to me 'ud come in handy now.' 

The coroner, a meek little man, who felt the control 
of Pugh altogether beyond him, again interposed : 

' But you saw he was holding on to the bank ? ' 

' I did not notice.' 

' At any ratt, you saw him in the water. If you had 
gone down to the mere-side and supported him till help 
came he would have been alive now.' 

' I supposed he could get out. There was really no 
time to do anything.' 

' Other folks could get wet jackets in half a minute,' 
remarked Pugh. ' You didn't even wet your hands. 
But they'll need a deal o' washing to get rid o' this ! ' 

A breath of approval passed through the listening 
crowd. 

* Upon my soul ! ' whispered Occleston in Basset's 
ear, ' I had no notion Pugh had so much in him.' 

' I perceive,' said Parfitt with cold anger, ' that a 
ridiculous attempt is being made to consider me re- 
sponsible for this accident. But here is a keeper who 
saw me go on the bridge and stand there alone, and 
I have other witnesses.' 

' We will take the keeper's evidence next,' said the 
coroner. 

' Dr. Cassilis was all right when he left my house, 
as my gardener can testify, for he shut the gates after 
him,' said Pugh, ' an' that was twenty-five minutes past 
ten. There were three shots fired afore then an' eight 
after, for I counted 'em. Now where was Cassilis 
when them eight shots were fired ? ' looking enquiringly 
towards Anthony Occleston, who replied : 



2^6 Quality Corner 

' The last shot was fired just as I saw Dr. Cassilis 
sink.' 

' Well,' resumed Pugh, ' yon last shot was fired at 
fifteen to eleven. I'm particular about my clocks, as 
folks know ; an' the doctor was in the water then. That 
gives twenty minutes to account for. Now,' turning to 
Parfitt, ' where was you them twenty minutes ? ' 

' In the woods with the rest of the party.' 

* Till you walked on the bridge ? ' put in the coroner. 

' Till I walked on the bridge, of course. But I was 
there no time to speak of.' 

' Nay,' said Mr. Pugh, ' that's just the time as we 
want to speak of — the time when you was standing still 
on the bridge instead o' helping or hollering.' 

At this point the coroner suggested that they might 
as well hear what the gamekeeper had to say. 

' Why not all of 'em ? ' demanded Mr. Pugh. ' I'd 
like to hear what all the keepers have to say.' 

However, it appeared that only two had any in- 
formation to give. The first had been in the farther 
plantation, had seen three men rush by him from the 
direction of the bridge, and had started in pursuit, but 
stumbled over a tree-root and fell. When he picked 
himself up, the three men had vanished. So he went 
back towards the bridge, as the men had come from 
thence. 

' Had you heard no noise before the men passed 
you ? ' asked the coroner. 

The keeper was not sure. There was a good deal of 
noise in the woods just then. He could hardly tell 
from what quarter it came. As he went back to the 
bridge he saw Mr. Parfitt in front of him. 



A Study of Remorse 337 

' An' where had Mr. Parfitt been afore you saw 
him ? ' enquired Pugh. 

That the witness did not know. But he saw him 
walk out on the bridge and stand there in the full 
moonlight alone. No one was with him. He — the 
keeper — then hurried off to where the fight was going 
on. Mr. Parfitt was standing quietly. There was no 
one about. 

The keeper went on to say that from where he stood 
he could not see the water, therefore was not aware 
that Dr. Cassilis was in the mere ; thought all was right 
because Mr. Parfitt was standing there quietly. 

' No blame attaches to this man,' said the coroner. 

' I want to know how many shots were fired while 
Mr. Parfitt was on the bridge,' said Pugh. 

The keeper did not remember. He himself was in 
the thick of the fight in three minutes or so. When he 
arrived he saw Mr. Anthony and several other gentle- 
men break away in pursuit of two poachers. They ran 
towards the mere. 

' An' that was how you got down to the mere an' saw 
Dr. Cassilis drowning,' looking again at Tony. 

' Yes, that was it. He sank just as I caught sight 
of him.' 

* That gives him seven or eight minutes in the water, 
at a rough guess,' continued Mr. Pugh, 'an' it leaves 
ten or twelve minutes. Where was Mr. Parfitt them 
ten minutes ? ' 

But to Pugh's evident disappointment, which he was 
at no pains to conceal, the second keeper stated that he 
was with Parfitt up to the time when the latter walked 
on the bridge. 



23^ Quality Corner 

' An' what was you two doing away from the fight ? ' 
asked Pugh. 

The man explained that he and Parfitt had gone to 
look for the rest of the gang, as some of the expected 
poachers were missing. He had heard a noise of run- 
ning. Supposed it was caused by the three men seen by 
the previous witness. Could not see the bridge from 
where he and Mr. Parfitt stood at first. They walked 
towards it till it came in sight, and then separated, Mr. 
Parfitt going on the bridge and himself remaining in 
the plantation to look round. No one was anywhere 
about. He did not see Dr. Cassilis, as he did not go 
near the water. Mr. Parfitt was standing on the bridge 
in the moonlight. Then he heard Mr. Anthony and 
others coming, and went back in case Mr. Occleston 
wanted him. Questioned by Pugh respecting the eight 
shots, the keeper replied that he had not counted them, 
but Mr. Parfitt was either with him or within sight 
during the whole of the firing from first to last. 

' Oh, was he ! ' observed Pugh with obvious unbelief, 
' an' them three poachers chucked the doctor in, I 
suppose ? ' 

' That is certainly my opinion, Mr. Pugh,' said the 
coroner, ' and I shall hope for their discovery and 
arrest.' 

Compelled to let his prey escape, Pugh drew his own 
conclusions ; the three men were mythical, the keepers 
had been bribed. Of that he was positive, and there- 
fore contrived to make the verdict as unpleasant as 
possible to Parfitt; the jury stating their opinion that 
Cassilis was thrown into the mere by ' some person or 
persons not in custody.' 

' Unknown,' amended the coroner. 



A Study of Remorse 339 

* Not in custody,' repeated Pugh, fixing a deliberate 
eye on Mark; and the twelve also added a rider to 
the effect that Parfitt deserved severe censure for not 
attempting either to assist Cassilis or to summon assist- 
ance. 

' These country juries are the most intolerable idiots 
living ! ' began Parfitt as the crowd dispersed and he 
came out with Rudell. Close behind them was Pugh. 

' How much did you give 'em ? ' he enquired, 

' Do you insinuate that I bribed my witnesses ? ' asked 
Mark. 

' I'm sure on't,' replied Pugh. ' No man can say as I 
insinuate. I'm sure on't ! ' 

' Your w^ords are actionable, Mr-. Pugh.' 

' O' course. You bring the action an' I'll defend it. 
I'll spend the money cheerful.' 

Rudell took his brother-in-law by the arm and led 
him away. 

' Don't be a fool, Mark. Let the matter drop. 
You've got out of this better than you deserve. That 
standing on the bridge was awkward — very ! ' 

' I shall return to town to-night,' said Parfitt. ' The 
whole affair is outrageous. I have been right about 
Cassilis all along. You don't deny there was some- 
thing queer, though you won't tell. Yet I am first 
snubbed and then held up to ridicule. I'm deuced sorry 
I ever saw this hole ! ' 

' I admit,' said Rudell, ' that you have some right on 
your side, but that standing on the bridge is indefensi- 
ble. However, we need say no more about it. Cassilis 
is dead, Pugh is nobody, and you are going.' 

' What was the story about Cassilis ? ' enquired 
Mark. 



340 Quality Corner 

* Since he is gone, it is not worth while mentioning li. 
I may have been wrong in my surmises.' 

' Did he pass himself off as the fellow who suicided ? ' 

' Oh dear no, nothing of the kind. By the way, I 
think Basset would buy that sketch if you care to 
sell it/ 

' Of Cassilis ? Well, I may as well get rid of it. He 
has caused me so much annoyance that it is only fair I 
should make something out of him.' 

' I will take it into Basset's this evening and bring 
back the money.' 

'All right.' 

This slightly soothed Parfitt, so that when he was 
back in Quality Corner, and his sister vexedly watched 
his packing, he suddenly invited her to return to town 
with him for awhile. 

' You seem rather glum,' said he. ' You meant well, 
Susette, but your little scheme for my happiness has 
proved a failure. Looking at things all around, I am 
not sure which has won, Cassilis or myself. I about 
settled him, and he has settled me — or nearly so. Any- 
way, you would be the better for a change. Ask Ru- 
dell. And get ready at once.' 

' Go, of course,' was Rudell's answer when consulted. 
' I will join you later. I am afraid all this has been 
very unpleasant for you, Susette.' 

' I think everybody has behaved as badly as possible,' 
replied Mrs. Rudell. ' I am quite tired of mysterious 
drownings and disagreeables.' 

' We are rid of them now,' said her husband. ' Give 
me that portrait, Mark. I am going into Number Two.' 

He found Basset sitting with Tony Occleston in the 



A Study of Remorse 341 

dusk and flickering firelight, Thea having gone in next 
door to see Emily Darnton. 

Rudell produced the charcoal drawing of Cassilis, 

* You wanted it,' he said. 

' Yes.' Basset took it up. ' I will write a cheque for 
it now.' 

* Do you mean to say,' exclaimed Tony, ' that Parfitt 
will take money for the portrait of the man he would 

not save ! Well, of all the disgusting ' Tony 

stopped. He felt language was not equal to expressing 
his opinion of Parfitt at that moment. 

' I am glad to have it,' said Basset, looking at the face 
— younger than that of the man he had known, yet the 
same. 

* My brother-in-law goes to London to-night,' ob- 
served Rudell after a minute's silence. 

' What time does he leave here ? ' enquired Tony. 

' My dear boy, professionally speaking, I don't 
know.' 

' You mean you won't tell ! ' 

' That is my meaning exactly. If I read yours aright, 
you intend waylaying him. Best not. He is not worth 
a fracas. Besides, my wife is going with him.' 

* Oh,' said Tony disappointedly. ' I was waiting 
about here to tell him what I thought of him.' 

' He knows it already,' rejoined the lawyer. 

Basset straightened himself in his chair, sitting bolt 
upright. 

' If Parfitt were not a relative of your wife's, I should 
permit myself to observe that I consider him a very low 
type — quite the lowest type it has been my misfortune 
to meet in presumably civilised society.' 



342 Quality Corner 

' I think I will tell him that,' said Rudell. ' It will 
annoy him.' 

Here Tony Occleston, hearing Thea's returning 
footsteps in the hall, left the two elder men alone to- 
gether. 

' I regret Cassilis very deeply,' Basset added. 

' He has disturbed our little world,' replied the other. 
' A vivid personality always does. By-and-by the im- 
pression will fade, and he will be to us merely the 
remembrance of a passing stranger.' 

' No,' said Basset. 

* Yes,' insisted Rudell, ' it must be so. Only the 
brute and the fool are always recollected, because they 
leave a generation or so of entanglements behind them 
for other people to straighten. That keeps their mem- 
ory green ! But when a remarkable man dies — I admit 
Cassilis was a remarkable man, whatever may be my 
opinion of his doings — his contemporaries experience 
a certain relief. There is so much more room for them 
to stretch their legs.' 

Basset passed his hand over his face. 

* Rudell — pardon me — when you are in these moods 
you make me comprehend the general feeling towards 
lawyers.' 

Rudell slowly took a pinch of snuff. 

' Decidedly,' he said, ' Cassilis was a remarkable man. 
He causes quarrelling. That is the sure sign of a re- 
markable man. But I am willing to admit it is just 
possible that I may be altogether mistaken in my 
suspicions, though I cannot think I am. Yet,' Rudell 
paused, ' though not for a moment do I defend Parfitt's 
conduct at the bridge, it must be acknowledged that in 
all else he was right enough. It is that which annoys 



J 



A Study of Remorse 343 

us. The man who is right is always a nuisance, par- 
ticularly if we dislike him. He was perfectly justified 
in producing that portrait. As for the unhappy acci- 
dent by which Cassilis lost his life, has it not struck 
you, Basset, that there was somehow a singular retri- 
bution in the whole aflFair ? ' 
' I perceive none.' 

* Yes, you do. Your tone tells me you do. It is 
most curious that Mark should have been present both 
at Thorold's death and at Cassilis's.' 

' You cannot say that he was present at Thorold's.' 
' Well, he was outside the house, and Cassilis ad- 
dressed him that same night, and close upon the hour 
too. Assuming that my suspicions are correct, and that 
Cassilis was the cause of Thorold dying, I am im- 
pressed by the fact that Parfitt might have saved Cas- 
silis, but did not. I am not excusing my brother-in- 
law's conduct, but he appears to me as an unconscious 
instrument of retribution. The more I reflect upon the 
circumstances the more singular they are. ]\Iark really 
seems to have been brought here by an inscrutable 
Providence to explain and avenge Thorold's death.' 

* I prefer not to think so,' said Basset, looking 
troubled. 

* I am not excusing Mark,' Rudell repeated. ' I con- 
sider him a brute. But there the facts are.' 

' I still believe in Cassilis.' 

' I do not,' and Rudell rose. 

' You will come in to-morrow ? ' asked Basset. 
* Emily Darnton is going to stay at Outwood for a 
week or two, so I am thinking of running over to Ire- 
land with Thea.' 

' Quality Corner needs a change,' said RudelL 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

THUS it happened that CassiUs never left Ringway, 
but slept among the dead Ringway folk on the 
green hillside looking south that Thea had likened to 
the waiting-place of repentant spirits. As the Novem- 
ber moon waned, the gold of autumn faded and De- 
cember came — the month that is like a peat fire, grey 
ash veiling the glow ; the month in which the earth is 
still stirring drowsily before sinking into the deep 
sleep of January. In December there is the semi- 
consciousness of the woodland — the slowing of the 
pulse, the ash over the smouldering flame ; the month 
in which the sense of life is so singularly acute, perhaps 
because so repressed. One is impelled to tread softly, 
to listen, like some wild four-footed thing. One re- 
verts to the primaeval man, yet retaining all the added 
capacity for enjoyment that the centuries have be- 
stowed. There is an extraordinary and apparently 
wholly unreasonable exhilaration of spirit when one 
treads the peat in December, an exhilaration second 
only to that given by the sea. 

This year December was very beautiful in Ringway. 
Day after day brought a dawn of clearest light, a noon- 
tide of softened gold, a twilight of sombre crimson, a 
night of stars. At last, close upon Christmas, there 
came a morning when a little bitter wind blew from 
the north, and clouds shut out the blue, grey clouds 
with the faint tinge of yellow that betokens snow. 

344 



A Study of Remorse 345 

Towards afternoon the wind dropped, but the air grew 
colder. 

Now so long as the woods — the mere, basked in the 
same mellow sunshine, had much the same aspect they 
wore that last day of Cassilis's life, Thea Thorold 
had not cared to look upon them. She had acquiesced 
gladly in Basset's proposal to go away for awhile, so 
for three weeks the mahogany box had remained at 
Number Two. On her return the little model therein 
grew familiar to her eyes, for again and again and yet 
again she sat before it far into the night — as those 
others, Thorold and Cassilis, had sat — thinking con- 
tinually, yet to no purpose. The Dark Fairy-tale was 
finished. If the model could disappear, that would be 
the closing of the book till a mightier hand reopened it. 
Then the thought of the mere rose in Thea's mind. 
There was safe concealment — oblivion — in that deep 
cleft. The idea grew. Yes, the lake should take the 
fatal thing into its silent keeping. So when the faint 
icy wind arose, and the dreamy warmth of the early 
winter fled before it, Thea walked over to Outwood 
Mere. There was a waiting hush in the woods, a 
pause before the coming of the snow. Against the 
yellow-grey of the sky the leafless branches outlined 
themselves with that unexpectedness and variety of in- 
tricate interlacing that the eye follows with such a 
grateful sense of pleasure and rest. Unconsciously 
peace stole over Thea's spirit — the anodyne of the win- 
ter woods. Of what avail was it to try to solve that 
which is insoluble? She could not straighten this 
crooked thing — destroy the evil thought that had taken 
such fatal shape and form. Oh those devils incarnate 
that scared the good folk of mediaeval times, and could 



346 Quality Corner 

themselves be scared by bell, book, and candle ! Small 
need to imagine these harmless demons, when by 
merely putting our evil thoughts into action we can 
create real devils that no exorcism can quell, no priest 
can daunt ; devils that will go on working for us while 
we sleep in death, that they may, when we awake, dis- 
play their finished task before us their creators ; who 
stand responsible both for them and for their resultant 
labours. 

Cassilis was happy in that the devil he had raised 
was one whose power for active evil in the world soon 
ceased. Merciful happenings had checked it at the 
onset. Basset had taken Thorold's desolate child, 
death had taken Cassilis. He left the shadow of pain- 
ful knowledge and sorrowful regret; a faint umbra 
this beside the terrific phantoms men daily call up, give 
body to, and send forth ; yet equally with these, undy- 
ing — uncontrollable — and to be accounted for. 

The mere lay in the cleft like dull steel beneath the 
lowering sky. There was no one about. Thea placed 
the box on the parapet and looked down into the water. 
Dimly that dark mass mirrored the arch of the bridge, 
the clouds, her own face. She lifted the box, holding 
it in both hands outstretched that it might fall clear. 
For a moment she hesitated, thinking again of her 
father's toil and thought expended on this thing — toil 
and thought lying dormant for years, and now to be 
lost for ever by her act. Yet what else could she do ? 
Produce the model? Explain why and how it had 
come into her possession ? Impossible ! If her decision 
were wrong, she alone was responsible. 

With a perplexed sigh, Thea dropped the box. It 



A Study of Remorse 347 

turned sideways as it fell, striking the water with a 
faint splash, and was gone. The little ripples caused 
by its fall flowed away to the banks, and the dark sur- 
face was quiet once more. It was gone — the thought 
that had been shaped into wood and steel. As for that 
other thought, Cassilis's evil thought, and its result, 
these were in abeyance ; undone they could not be. 

Thea looked down into the black water as though 
seeking to read some comfort there. In vain. The 
mere could keep a secret, it could give sanctuary from 
all the ills of this life, but it could not solve a problem 
that lay beyond this visible world. Yet Cassilis had 
had a hard life — so hard a life resulting from one brief 
thought, and he had repented. His life had been hard 
mainly because he had repented. He had surely dree'd 
his weird. Then in Thea's mind the words formed 
themselves, as other words not dissimilar had shone 
in the banqueting hall at Babylon, ' I will render evil 
unto this people, even the fruit of their thoughts.' 

After all, the real things are the things intangible — 
invisible ; thought — feeling. These move the world 
for good or evil. Evil had been Cassilis's thought and 
its evil fruit had been rendered to him ; and also to 
others, for no man liveth unto himself. ' Even the fruit 
of their thoughts ! ' Again the words shaped them- 
selves before Thea's mental vision, and the underlying 
Puritanism in her rose and sorrowfully acquiesced — 
that Puritanism which it is now the fashion to decry, 
but which nevertheless built the Empire, and is the only 
force that is capable of permanently maintaining it. 
There is no energy so great as that produced by the 
self-restraint of generations. 



348 Quality Corner 

' I will render evil unto this people, even the fruit of 
their thoughts.' 

Standing here on the bridge, Thea felt the influence 
of the place more sinister than she had imagined it 
would be ; the sight of it had a stronger effect upon her 
than she had anticipated. Yet she lingered some min- 
utes from a feeling characteristic of her, an inborn 
asceticism that compelled her to remain because the re- 
maining was not pleasant ; a feeling of compassionate 
loyalty that forbade her to hasten from the spot where 
a friend had died, no matter how uselessly painful the 
lingering might be. 

A snowfiake floated slowly down. Then another 
and another, skirmishers of the White Company that 
the strong north was sending; soft feathery crystals 
whirling onward in fantastic manoeuvres, silent legion- 
aries whose advance no man can withstand. 

As if the first flake had been a messenger, Thea 
turned away homeward. Not hurrying; she was too 
much a creature of the elements to fear a snowstorm 
when her path lay through sheltering woods and the air 
was windless, but December days are short and the 
dusk would close in before she reached Quality Cor- 
ner. 

The snow fell thickly as she crossed the field where 
the barley had rustled in the summer — how long ago it 
seemed ! — but within the woods the flakes descended 
more slowly, arrested by the interlacing branches. To 
Thea, who felt a stronger kinship with nature than 
most, the eddying whiteness brought a sort of forlorn 
comfort. The last few weeks had been so full of sad- 
ness and painful thought, that now the mere had closed 



A Study of Remorse 349 

over that mute accuser, now that the Dark Fairy-tale 
was ended, the book shut till the time when the secrets 
of all hearts shall be revealed, the youth in her clam- 
oured for relief; turning gratefully to old familiar 
playmates of woodland and snow, old memories of 
pleasant childish days. She hastened her steps, think- 
ing of Quality Corner and her godfather, and all the 
warmth and welcome and sunny life that had been hers 
there. The snowflakes powdered her shoulders, her 
hair, touched her cheek with their light chill ; the twi- 
light shadows giving a dim unreality to the falling 
whiteness. One moment she stopped by the chestnut, 
and glanced round the dusky woods with a renewed 
pang of regret for the man who had been such a good 
companion. A good companion, yes ; but it needs a 
master-hand to bring out the full tones of a Guarnerius, 
and that Cassilis was not. He had but struck a few 
vibrating chords. 

Then Thea went on. In a minute or two more she 
was outside the woods and hastened down the hill — a 
lithe snow-besprinkled figure, veiled in the softly-whirl- 
ing flakes. There were the lights of Quality Comer 
shining faintly through the snow. People were com- 
ing up the road from the station ; a train from Woff en- 
dale was just in. Basset had been all day in the grimy 
city, and here he was, turning into the Comer. 

' Caught in the snow, my dear ? ' he said, seeing his 
god-daughter. ' I have brought the Bishop back with 
me to dinner. I told him we expect Emily, and Mer- 
ries, and the Occlestons.' 

So they passed into the warm, brightly-lit, flower- 
scented old house, and the old life began again ; while 



350 Quality Corner 

the soft sheltering snow fell more and more thickly far 
and wide — over town and wood and field, over hill and 
valley, over Mannannen's garden, and over the church- 
yard looking south where Cassilis slept among the dead 
Ringway folk, in the place of repentant spirits. 



THE END 



THE FOREST SCHOOLMASTER 

By PETER ROSEQGER 
Authorized Translation by Frances E. Sklnaer 




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